Tombstones from the first half of the 19th Century in Vilnius St Euphrosyne Orthodox Cemetery: Types and Décor (Summary) (Summary)

Jurgita Kristina Pačkauskienė (PDF)

The article is based on field research carried out in the old cemeteries of Vilnius from 2020 to 2022. It discusses the shapes and decorations of typologically rare tombstones with unique décor from the first half of the 19th century located in Vilnius St Euphrosyne Orthodox Cemetery. The tombstones are analysed in the context of the gravestones from other old cemeteries of Vilnius. The article also compares field research materials from other old cemeteries in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

It has been ascertained that the oldest tombstones made of cast iron in the 1810s and 1820s, namely, the ornamented plaque and sarcophagus, still feature some Baroque trends of tombstone decoration. However, their epigraphs are closer to the Classicist era in content and form. Later, around the 1830s, cast iron tombstones of cippus type are the typical works of the Classicist era adorned with the sepulchral symbols of Classical Antiquity. However, the cippi of Vilnius cemeteries also contain religious symbols, such as texts of prayers, the reliefs of crosses and the Eye of Providence.

The main decorative element of the cut boulder-shaped headstones from the first half of the 19th century is multi-font and sometimes multi-lingual epigraphs that used to be gilded. The cemetery has two exceptional tombstones: granite boulders with sculptural, figurative groups depicting family members weeping for their dead relatives. They are the only known outdoor monuments with mourning scenes from the first half of the 19th century in the old cemeteries of Lithuania. The decorative scenes in them are characteristic of the Romantic era.

Keywords: tombstones, font, iconography, décor, epigraphs