Mississippi Genealogy & History Network










Mississippi Tombstone Symbols & their Meanings



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If you have information about a tombstone symbol that is not on our list, please let us know.



  •     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.