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ICONOGRAPHY OF GRAVE MARKERS AT CEMETERIES OF JODENSAVANNE AND CASSIPORA CREEK

The most significant characteristics of gravestones are their inscriptions and images. In the Jewish cemeteries of Jodensavanne and Cassipora around 10% of the epitaphs are carved or sculpted with poetic verses and images. The languages used were Hebrew, Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch.

Iconography in the cemeteries occurs slightly less than poetic verses: a total of 55 gravestones bear illustrative images. The most common symbol is of a hand or arm of an angel holding an ax and cutting down the tree of life. This symbol was dominantly used for persons who died at a relatively young age.

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The second often used symbol is of the priestly benediction hands, mostly used for Cohens and Levites.

There are a few gravestones with more than one icon, such as grave no. 326 [Remnant Stones, 2009] of the virtuous honorable and curtailed Mrs. Rachel, wife of Joseph de Meza, who died at the age of 25 in September of the year 1733. The icons include two winged angels holding aloft between them an hour glass and three scenes in triptych style: the first depicting a table with shew bread; second, a winged angel with an axe emerging from a cloud and chopping down a tree and a third with skull and crossbones.

Iconography Creole Cemetery
 

The following abbrevations can be observed on a number of graves at the African-Creole Cemetery:

H.R or H : R:     = Hier Rust (Here Lies)

H: R: B                = Hier Rust Begraven (Here Lies Buried)

R.I.P.                   = Rest In Peace

H - R or H:R:    = Hier Rust (Here Lies)

HLG                    = Hier Ligt Geborgen (Here Lies Secured)

H L B                  = Hier Ligt Begraven (Here is Buried)

   H
L + B
HB                      = Hier Begraven (Buried Here)
G                         = Geborgen/Graf of Gestorven (Secured/Grave or Died)


 

Wooden gravemarkers Creole Cemetery

There are different types of wooden gravemarkers. The difference is mostly observable at the heads or finials of the grave markers.

Iconography Creole Cemetery
 

The following abbrevations can be observed on a number of graves at the African-Creole Cemetery:

H.R or H : R:     = Hier Rust
                                 (Here Lies)

H: R: B                = Hier Rust Begraven
                                 (Here Lies Buried)

R.I.P.                   = Rest In Peace

H - R or H:R:    = Hier Rust (Here Lies)

HLG                    = Hier Ligt Geborgen
                                 (Here Lies Secured)

H L B                  = Hier Ligt Begraven
                                (Here is Buried)

H
L + B
HB                      = Hier Begraven
                                (Buried Here)
G                         = Geborgen/Graf of
                                Gestorven
                                (Secured/Grave or
                                  Died)

 

Wooden gravemarkers Creole Cemetery

There are different types of wooden gravemarkers. The difference is mostly observable at the heads or finials of the grave markers.

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Heart shaped grave marker

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Round shaped grave marker

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Spade-like grave marker

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Spade-like grave marker

The heads or finials of the wooden grave markers of the Creole Cemetery are not the only defining characteristic. The torso of some old markers are adorned with a “necklace and pendant-like” inscription, which is also noticeable at some of the more recent grave markers of concrete .

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Wooden burial marker with “necklace and pendant-like” inscription.

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Modern concrete burial marker from 1938 with “necklace and pendant-like” inscription.

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