Mississippi Genealogy & History Network











Mississippi Tombstone Symbols & their Meanings



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    Acorns - Power; Authority; Victory. Often seen on military graves.

    Alpha and Omega - The beginning and the end.

    Anchor - Hope; Steadfastness.


Anchor, Sextant, & Cross Staff - Could mean the person was a Mariner.

    Anchor with Crossed Canons - Confederate States Navy.

    Anchor with Chain or Rope - Emblem of the United States Navy.

    Anchors, Double with Shield - United States Coast Guard.

    Angels - Spirituality; Guardians of the tomb.

    Angel, Flying - Rebirth; Resurrection.

    Angel, Praying - Advocate asking God for mercy on behalf of the deceased.


Angel, Trumpeting - Rebirth; Resurrection.

    Arch - Victory in death; Door to Salvation.

    Arches, Double Stone - Being Rejoined in Heaven With Partner.

    Arrow(s) - Mortality; Death.


Axe, Knife, & Cleaver - Could mean the person was a Butcher.

Awl, Knife, & Nippers - Could mean the person was a Shoemaker or Cobbler.

Barber Bowl & Razor - Could mean the person was a Barber.

    Bee Flying with Gun - Seabees (US Navy)

    Beehive - Symbol of Mormonism; Masonic symbol of productivity.

    Bells & Doves - Marriage.

    Bellflower - Gratitude

    Bible - The Holy Bible is often found on the tombstones of Christians.

    Bird - Eternal Life.


Bird Flying - Ressurection.

Books, Holy - Often found on the tombstones of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). Two books indicate the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Three books represent the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

    Books, with or without Apple - Could mean the person was a Teacher.

    Book, Open - Book of Life.

    Butterfly - Shortened life.


Candle (snuffed) - Loss of Life.

    Candle, Burning - Everlasting Life.

    Castle - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

    Chain, Broken Links of - Death of a Spouse.

    Chain, Three Links - Grand United Order of Oddfellows

    Chalice - Sacrement.

    Cherubs - Innocence.

    Chi Rho - The first two letters, X (chi) & P (rho) in the Greek word for Christ.

    Child, Sleeping - Grave of a young child; Not dead, just sleeping.

    Circle of Leaves - The Circle (Womens auxillary - Woodmen of the World)

    Clover, Four-Leaf - The 4H Club.

    Coffin - Mortality.

    Column, Broken - Decay / Loss of the Head of the Family

    Compass & Square - Masons.

    Corn, Stalk of - Could mean the person was a Farmer.


Coulter (hoe) - Could mean the person was a Farmer.

Crescent - Muslum faith.

    Cross - General Symbol of Christianity. Represents the Ressurection to many Christian religions.

    Cross with Crown - In Mississippi it is usually a Christian symbol of sovereignty of the Lord.

    Cross with Flames - Symbol of the Methodist Religion.

    Cross with Jesus Christ - The Crucifixion; The Sacrifice of Christ.

    Cross, Bontonee - The Trinity.

    Cross, Celtic or Irish - Episcopalians call this the Celtic Cross, while Catholics call it the Irish Cross. Often used to denote the graves of Monks or Priests.


Cross, Crusader's - Symbol used by Europeans during the Holy War against the Muslims.

    Cross, Egyptian or Coptic - Used by the Gnostics and the Copts, it was devised from the ancient Egyptian symbol, ankh, which symbolizes life.


Cross, Greek - Most commonly known as the symbol adopted by the International Red Cross.

Cross, Jerusalem - Adopted by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is another cross from the Crusades.

    Cross, Maltese w/ Firefighter Equipment. - Firefighters Emblem.


Cross, Orthodox, Patriarchal, or Eastern - The top cross bar represents the sign "Jesus Christ, King of the Jews", placed on Jesus' cross by the Romans.

    Cross, Presbyterian - Presbyterian Religion.

    Cross, Roman or Latin - Came about as a result of the Great Schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.

    Cross, Southern Cross of Honor - Usually found on the tombstones of Confederate Veterans.


Cross, St. Andrew's - According to legend, when St. Andrew was martyred he claimed he was not worthy to be hung on a cross shaped as Jesus' cross. He requested that this shape be used for his execution.

Crossed Swords - High Ranking Military Person.

    Crown - The soul's achievement and the Glory of life after death.

    Crown with Cross - In Mississippi it is usually a Christian symbol of sovereignty of the Lord.

    Crown with Knight's Head, Crossed Swords, Moon & Stars - Order of DeMolay.

    Curtains / Drapes - Mourning; End of Life on Earth.




Daffodil / Narcissus - Rebirth and Ressurection.

Dart w/ figure - Mortality.

    Deer - Outdoorsman; Hunter.

    Dog - A Master worthy of love; Dog lover; Hunter

    Dove - Innocence; Peace.


Dove, Ascending - Soul rising to heaven.

Dove, Dead - Premature death.

Dove, Decending - Decent from heaven to accompany soul to heaven.

    Dove, Dive Bombing with Twig - Holy Ghost.

    Dove, Flying - Ressurrection.

    Dragonfly - Immortality and regeneration.

    Eagle - U.S. Postal Service.


Eagle with Stars & Stripes - Eternal vigilance and liberty.

    Eagle and Shield on Fleur de lis - Boy Scouts of America

    Eagle Clutching Arrows with Shield - United States Army.

    Eagles, Double w/ pyramid & the number 32 - Emblem of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Masons (32nd Degree).

    Eye with Sunburst or Triagle - Masonic Symbol.


Firefighter Helmet & Double Axes crossed - Mississippi State Firefighters Association.


Flail - Could mean the person was a Farmer.


Flame - Immortality of the Spirit; The Resurrection.

    Fleur-de-Lis - Faith, wisdom and valor; The Trinity, passion and love.


Fruit - Eternal Plenty; Fruit of Life.

Garland - Saintliness; Glory; Victory in Death.

    Gates - Pearly Gates; Entrance to Heaven.

    Grapes / Grapevine - Blood of Christ; Sacrament.


Grim Reaper - Personification of death.

Hammer, Anvil, & Crown - Could mean the person was a Blacksmith.

    Hammer & Square - Could mean the person was a Carpenter.

    Hand, Pointing Up - Pathway to Heaven.

    Hands with Rosery Beads - Symbol of the Catholic Religion.


Hands, Blessing - Blessing those remaining behind.

    Hands, Clasped - Farewell.

    Hands, Holding - Unity of Marriage.

    Hands, Praying - Asking God for Eternal Life.

    Hands reaching for the Lord's Hand - Faith that the Lord will help us to Heaven & Eternal Life.

    Harp - Praising God.

    Heart - Love; Affection of the living for the dead.


Heart, Sacred - Commonly found in Catholic Cemeteries. Representative of the suffering of Christ for our sins.

    Hearts, Two interlocked - Marriage.

    Heart and Rose in Cupped Hands - Organ Donor.


Horns - The Resurrection.

    Horse and Rider superimposed on Globe. - United Methodist Clergy

    Hourglass - Time has expired; Brievity of Life.

    "I" made with railroad tie - Employee of Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.



    Ivy - Immortality; Friendship.

    Lamb - Innocence. Usually marks a child's grave.

    Lamp - Immortality of the Spirit; The Resurrection.

    Laurel - Worldly accomplishment; Heroism


Light - Immortality of the Spirit; The Resurrection.

    Lily - Flower of a Virgin; Purity & Innocence.


Lion - Courage. The Lion's eternal watch guards the tomb.

Loom, Shuttle, & Stretcher - Could mean the person was a Weaver.

    Medal, Ribbon with Heart & likeness of George Washington. - Purple Heart, a U.S. Military medal given to soldiers wounded in action.

    Medal, Ribbon with 5-Pointed Star. - The Bronze Star, a U.S. Military medal awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service.

    Menorah - An Emblem of Judaism.

    Militia Soldier w/ Rifle & 5 Stars - Army National Guard.

    Mississippi Map with Eagle, Shield, & Stars - Mississippi Highway Patrol.

    Morning Glory - Beginning of Life.

    Mortar and Pestle - Pharmacists (sometimes Doctor).

    Navy Seal - United States Navy.

    Oak Leaves - Power; Authority; Victory. Often seen on military graves.

    Palm Branch - Victory; Rejoicing.

    Pine Tree, Cones, Branch, and/or needles - Immortality.

    Poppy - Eternal Sleep.


Rake & Spade - Could mean the person was a Gardener.

    Ring - Marriage.


Ring, Broken - A Family Circle has been severed.

    Rings, Interlocked - Marriage.


Rod - Comfort for the Bereaved.

    Rooster - Awakening; Resurrection.

    Rose, Fully opened - Death in the prime of life.

    Rosebud - Death early in life.

    Rosemary - Remembrance.




Scales - Could mean the person was a Merchant.

    Scimitar & 5-pointed Star - Emblem of the Shriners.

    Scimitar with Rose & Crescent - Daughters of the Nile.


Scythe - Harvest of death.

    Sissors, Brush, Razor, &/or Comb - Person was probably a Barber / Hairdresser / Beautician.

    Skull or Skull & Crossbones - Death.


Spade or Spade crossed with Shovel - Death.

    Spinning Wheel - Heroines of Jericho (Masonic).

    Spinning Wheel over Distaff filled with Flax - Daughters of the American Revolution.


Staff - Comfort for the Bereaved.

    Staff of Aesculapius w/ wings & the letter "V" superimposed (Caduceus) - Veterinarian.

    Staff of Asklepios with wings & double snakes (Caduceus) - Medical Doctor.

    Staff of Asklepios with wings, double snakes & the letter "D" (Caduceus) - Doctor of Dentistry.

    Star - The Order of the Eastern Star (Masonic).

    Star - The Light of the Spirit overpowers death.

    Star of David - International Symbol of Judaism.

    Star, 5-Pointed with Wreath & "US" in Center - American Legion Emblem.

    Sun - Light and warmth; Renewed life and life everlasting.

    Sunrise / Sunset - The Ressurection; Life Ending.

    Thistles - Remembrance.

    Tourch - Immortality of the Spirit; The Resurrection.

    Tree - Life.


Tree, Sprouting - Everlasting Life.

    Tree Stump - Life Cut Short.

    Tree Trunk - Brevity of Life; Member of Woodmen of the World.

    Triangle with 3 joined "T's" - Royal Arch Mason.


Trumpeters - Harbingers of the Resurrection.

    Urn - Immortality.


Urn with Flame - Undying Remembrence.

Wedge & Level - Could mean the person was a Mason by trade.

    Weeping Willow - Perpetual Mourning; Grief.

    Wheat Sheaves or Strands - Divine Harvest.

    Wreath - Saintliness; Glory; Victory in Death.

    Wings with Crest - U.S. Air Force Pilot.

    Wings with Parachute & Star - U.S. Army Airbourne.

    Wings with Propeller - U.S. Army Air Corps.

    Wings with Star and Wreath - U.S. Army Master Aviator.

    Wings, Pilot's, with "L" in Center - WW II U.S. Military Liaison Pilot.

    Wreath - Saintliness; Glory; Victory in Death.