The Art of the Cemetery: Dove

Stout-bodied birds with short necks, pigeons and doves belong to the same family of birds, Columbidae, which consists of over 300 species of birds.  While doves and pigeons come from the same family, doves are generally smaller, whereas pigeons are the larger species.  The other key difference is that pigeons have straighter tails, whereas doves’ tails appear more fanned out.  Even though the vast majority of doves are not white (they actually come in a wide range of colors), rock pigeons that are pure white are colloquially called doves.

Dove symbolism represents all the good qualities surrounding this spiritual bird.  Across different cultures and traditions, doves are seen as symbols of peace, spirituality, hope, renewal, transformation, and love.  Because of their unique ability to produce their own milk, doves are often considered a symbol of motherhood as well.

Seen in both Christian and Jewish grave markers, the dove is a symbol of purity and innocence.  The presence of doves on a headstone represents peace and purity.  For Christians, a dove can signify the Holy Spirit, resurrection, or redemption.  Symbolizing the ascent into heaven in their upward flight as an aspiring soul, the dove, particularly if it is depicted with an olive branch in its mouth, represents peace.  The flying bird with an olive branch conveys that the soul has reached divine peace in heaven.

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. Visit our cemetery and explore 400 acres of art, architecture, and history.

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