TOD! – GRAB! – VERWESUNG! VISUALISIERUNG VON TOD UND STERBEN IN DEN ESTNISCHEN FREMDSPRACHIGEN FUNERALDRUCKEN DES 17. UND 18. JAHRHUNDERTS
Keywords:funeral publications, 17th and 18th centuries, symbols of Death, vignettes
The materials in the Retrospective National Bibliography of foreignlanguage
publications printed in Estonia before 1830 provide various
opportunities for analysing the production of local print shops.
The article focuses on the illustrative elements in printed funeral
sermons and works of poetry, which cast a light on the memorial
and commemorative customs in the early modern period.
Visual decorative elements like headpieces and vignettes had a
general symbolic meaning and were used to illustrate funeral texts
irrespective of the age, vocation or position of the deceased. One
objective was to remind the viewers of their own mortality. Skulls and
coffins were among the main vignette motifs used to depict Death,
and less often, Death was depicted as a skeleton or the Grim Reaper.
Inscriptions added to the vignettes emphasised relevant passages
from the Bible to strengthen one’s faith. The fact that the same or
similar vignettes were simultaneously used in different countries is
noteworthy. The motifs for visualising Death and mourning used in
the foreign-language funeral publications in Estonia are very similar
to those used in Sweden and Finland during the same period.