The Art of the Cemetery: Meandering through Woodlawn

A common motif in Greek art, the meander or Greek key is a decorative device constructed from a continuous line that takes repeated right-angled turns.  The meander was among the most important symbols in Ancient Greece.  For the people of Ancient Greece, the meandros (meander) symbolized eternity and infinite love.

The famous pattern is named after the 250-mile-long snaking Meander River, known today as the Meanderes, which Homer mentions in The Iliad, the foundational work of Ancient Greek literature.  In modern times, the meander’s unbroken, interlocking pattern remains a frequent theme, replicated in fashion, jewelry, decorative arts, interior design, and architecture.  The ornament is employed on buildings and objects beginning in Ancient Greece, and its use in art and design continues to the present day.

With its short, horizontal and vertical fillets connecting to each other in continuous back and forth progression, the meander signifies eternity and never-ending existence.   The pattern can also symbolize everlasting love.  The ancient symbol representing infinity or the eternal flow of things is a common icon on tombstones, affirming deepest dreams and wishes like a steadfast anchor.  The ancient geometric pattern transcends time and space, and will continue to be a source of inspiration for years to come.

Woodlawn is an open-air art gallery and living history museum that attracts 100,000 visitors annually.  Our memorials represent the largest and finest collection of funerary art in the country.  Meander through our cemetery and explore 400 acres of art, architecture, and history.

Woodlawn continues to be a non-sectarian cemetery without a specific religious affiliation.