Thursday, 2 August 2012

Sacred space

In Search Of Gravestones Old And Curious

W.T. (William Thomas) Vincent

Project Gutenburg
"Mankind in all ages and in all places has recognized the sanctity of the burial-place. Among the New Zealanders, when they were first revealed to Europeans as savages, the place of interment was tapu, or holy.

The wild and warlike Afghanistans have also a profound reverence for their burial-grounds, which they speak of expressively as "cities of the silent." Among the Turks the utmost possible respect is paid to the resting-places of the dead, and nowhere, perhaps (says Mrs. Stone in "God's Acre"), are the burial-places so beautiful.

The great and increasing size of Turkish cemeteries is due to the repugnance of the people to disturbing the soil where once a body has been laid. The Chinese and the inhabitants of the Sunda Isles (says the authority just quoted) seem to vie with each other in the reverence with which they regard the burial-places of their ancestors, which almost invariably occupy the most beautiful and sequestered sites. The graves are usually overgrown with long grasses and luxuriantly flowering plants. In like manner the Moors have a particular shrub which overspreads their graves, and no one is permitted to pluck a leaf or a blossom".

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