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The purpose of this study was to document and define symbolic imagery found within the grounds of the Colon Cemetery in Havana, Cuba. Memorials erected to the dead use symbology to tell stories about the departed, giving us clues to the deceased’s values and philosophies, as well as their religion, ethnicity, social memberships, occupations, education, level of wealth, and thoughts on the afterlife (Keister, 2004). Using images of Colon Cemetery from a photographic documentary series, Havana: Behind the Facade, architectural and cemetery symbology was grouped into categories, researched for meaning, and sought for interpretations to reveal clues about Cuban culture and beliefs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In general, these symbols revealed that this society believed in religious fervor, an afterlife, and a merciful God. This study serves to guide anyone who wants to interpret cemetery symbology. It opens the door to future studies on specific Cuban families and tombs. Most importantly, it visually preserves the symbology found on architecture and monuments within Colon Cemetery.

Author Bio(s)

Dana Moody is a Full Professor in Interior Architecture & Design at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She received a BS in Interior Design from the University of Southern Mississippi, a MS in Interior Design, minor in Art (Museology), and a PhD in Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Moody uses photography as visual anthropology to capture architectural details and surrounding ethnographic conditions. In 2017 & 2018 Dr Moody conducted a photographic documentary project in Havana, Cuba entitled Havana: Behind the Façade resulting in 3 solo exhibitions, participation in 12 group exhibitions and 2 awards. www.dana-moody.com

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.