Category Archives: beds

Field Report 3: Hollywood Cemetery

Underneath a tree, on the corner of a family plot is the grave of Kate and Charlies Burr. They died years apart, Kate at 2, and Charles at 3 in 1849 and 1858 respectively. Their grave has several elements to it, starting with the monument to the children resting on top of a chest tomb. It depicts a boy and a girl embracing each other lovingly, having been laid on the top of their sarcophagus, anchored together with a wreath of buds, and surrounded by interspersed leaves and foliage. It depicts the life of these two children cut short and reminds the viewer of both the beginning promise of life and the fragility of that promise. It also implies a connection between the siblings, despite their separate deaths, indicating that the family believed they were together in the afterlife.

Below the sarcophagus are two beds, perhaps for planting flowers, that are surrounded neatly in stone. They stretch behind the grave, morphing with the slope of the hill. The first bed carries an inscriptions reading, “And he took them up in his arms and blessed them Mark 10:16.” Sitting on the ledge is a platter carved with dying flowers and leaves, perhaps representing the feelings of the parents as they placed flowers on the grave of their children. The second ledge extends further out and it unadorned, although it’s not entirely clear whether it is the location of the children’s burial, or if it serves a purpose for the family. The grave itself doesn’t have a clear-cut front or back, only the children have any direction at all: head to the east, feet to the west, orienting them, rather than the face of the grave, in the traditional direction. Oddly, the text on both sides is oriented north and south, aligning with the path beside it.

The grave itself has a flow from earth to heaven. It starts displaying the ground, collecting the dead leaves from the tree it’s planted under, square, dark, and earthy. At the top sits the children, inclined upwards, looking eternally healthy and peaceful, carved in a lighter stone.

The grave displays both the feelings of loss of the parents, and the religious promise of life, using not only the carvings to depict it, but the land itself.