Memento Mori - reminders of death. For a while in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries it was customary to incorporate these rather gruesome icons - a skull was the most common - into gravestones and memorials.
St Mary's church in Chennai - the oldest Anglican church in India - harbours quite an array of these ghoulish motifs. Most of the gravestones now placed around the church are from the first half of the eighteenth century, when these memento mori were in vogue.
This gravestone features skull (not too artistically rendered), crossbones and the gravedigger's pick and shovel. It's like the winning line in a memento mori slot machine. The grave dates to around 1716. It's the resting place of William Warre of the East India Company - Bradford-born according to a family history site - who died 'aged about 35'.
Another gravestone features an image even more macabre - a full skeleton, now somewhat marred by pigeon droppings -
The craftsmanship is less than stellar, but the stark reminder of the inevitability of death - dust to dust, ashes to ashes - is inescapable.
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