Cenotaph

Cenotaph

Overview
A cenotaph is an "empty tomb" or a monument
Monument
A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or simply as an example of historic architecture...

 erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb
Tomb
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes...

 for a person who has since been interred elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek κενοτάφιον = kenotaphion (kenos, one meaning being "empty", and taphos, "tomb"). Although the vast majority of cenotaphs are erected in honour of individuals, many of the best-known cenotaphs are instead dedicated to the memories of groups of individuals, such as the lost soldiers of one country or empire.

Cenotaphs have been erected in many countries around the world since ancient times.
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Encyclopedia
A cenotaph is an "empty tomb" or a monument
Monument
A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or simply as an example of historic architecture...

 erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb
Tomb
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes...

 for a person who has since been interred elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek κενοτάφιον = kenotaphion (kenos, one meaning being "empty", and taphos, "tomb"). Although the vast majority of cenotaphs are erected in honour of individuals, many of the best-known cenotaphs are instead dedicated to the memories of groups of individuals, such as the lost soldiers of one country or empire.

History


Cenotaphs have been erected in many countries around the world since ancient times. It was a common tradition in the ancient world, with many examples built in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and across Northern Europe (in the shape of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 barrow
Tumulus
A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world. A tumulus composed largely or entirely of stones is usually referred to as a cairn...

s). The practice is still continued around the world. Lutyens' cenotaph influenced the design of many other war memorials in Britain and the British sectors of the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

, as well as those in other Commonwealth nations.

Cenotaphs in the United Kingdom


Many towns throughout the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 have erected cenotaphs. Two of the most widely known are described here.

London




A widely known cenotaph in the UK is the one that stands in Whitehall
Whitehall
Whitehall is a road in Westminster, in London, England. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Square, towards Charing Cross at the southern end of Trafalgar Square...

, London. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens
Edwin Lutyens
Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, OM, KCIE, PRA, FRIBA was a British architect who is known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era...

, and replaced Lutyens' identical wood-and-plaster cenotaph erected in 1919 for the Allied Victory Parade, and is a Grade I listed building. It is undecorated save for a carved wreath on each end and the words "The Glorious Dead", chosen by Lloyd George. It was intended to commemorate specifically the victims of the First World War, but is used to commemorate all of the dead in all wars in which British servicemen have fought. The dates of the First World War and the Second World War are inscribed on it in Roman numerals. The design was used in the construction of many other war memorials throughout the British Empire.

Belfast


The Cenotaph in Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

 is located in the grounds of Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall is the civic building of the Belfast City Council. Located in Donegall Square, Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, it faces north and effectively divides the commercial and business areas of the city centre.-History:...

 and is set within a Garden of Remembrance
Garden of Remembrance
Garden of Remembrance may be:*Garden of Remembrance , Ireland*Garden of Remembrance, Lockerbie, Scotland, see: Pan Am Flight 103#Memorials and tributes*Garden of Remembrance , by Oneiroid Psychosis...

. It is about 9.5 metres (31.2 ft) high and presents several carvings including laurel wreaths, symbolising victory and honour. The Cenotaph is the site of the annual Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 memorial held on Remembrance Sunday
Remembrance Sunday
In the United Kingdom, 'Remembrance Sunday' is held on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to 11 November Armistice Day. It is the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m...

, the closest Sunday to 11 November (Armistice Day
Armistice Day
Armistice Day is on 11 November and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day...

).

Cenotaphs in Canada


In Canada, major cenotaphs inspired by Lutyen's memorial in Whitehall, London, commemorating the nation's war dead in World War I and later conflicts include the National War Memorial
National War Memorial (Canada)
The National War Memorial , is a tall granite cenotaph with acreted bronze sculptures, that stands in Confederation Square, Ottawa, and serves as the federal war memorial for Canada....

 (a cenotaph surmounted by a bronze sculpture entitled "The Response") in Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

; Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Hamilton
Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton is a port city in the Canadian province of Ontario. Conceived by George Hamilton when he purchased the Durand farm shortly after the War of 1812, Hamilton has become the centre of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe...

, Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of 360,063, the 15th most populous Canadian...

 and the Victory Square Cenotaph, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Cenotaphs in South Africa



A cenotaph is the focal point of the Voortrekker Monument
Voortrekker Monument
The Voortrekker Monument is a monument in the city of Pretoria, South Africa. The massive granite structure, built to honour the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854, was designed by the architect Gerard Moerdijk who had the idea to design a "monument that would stand a...

 in Pretoria
Pretoria
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.Pretoria is...

, South Africa. It is situated below the other main point of interest, a marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 Historical Frieze in the Hall of Heroes, and is visible through a round opening in the floor. The Hall of Heroes itself has a dome from the summit of which one can view the interior of the monument. At noon on 16 December each year the sun shines through another opening in the dome onto the middle of the cenotaph, where the words 'Ons vir Jou, Suid-Afrika' (Afrikaans for 'We for Thee, South Africa') are inscribed. The ray of sunshine symbolises God's blessing on the lives and endeavours of the Voortrekkers. 16 December is the date in 1838 that the Battle of Blood River
Battle of Blood River
The Battle of Blood River, so called due to the colour of water in the Ncome River turning red with blood, was fought between 470 Voortrekkers led by Andries Pretorius, and an estimated 10,000–15,000 Zulu attackers on the bank of the Ncome River on 16 December 1838, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal,...

 was fought.

Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

, South Africa, has a striking and unusual cenotaph
Durban cenotaph
The Durban cenotaph was erected in Farewell Square, Durban, South Africa, as a memorial to fallen soldiers of World War I.Standing about 11 metres high, the monument is built of granite decorated with glazed ceramic tiles depicting two angels raising the soul of a dead soldier...

 made of granite and lavishly decorated with brightly coloured ceramics.

Cenotaphs in the rest of the world



In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, a cenotaph in Yale University's Hewitt Quad (or Beinecke Plaza) honours men of Yale who died in battle. The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial
John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial
The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial is a monument to the late U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas, Texas erected in 1970.- The Monument :...

 in Dallas is often described as a cenotaph.

Among Asian countries, the Cenotaph in Central
Central, Hong Kong
Central is the central business district of Hong Kong. It is located in Central and Western District, on the north shore of Hong Kong Island, across Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui, the southernmost point of Kowloon Peninsula...

 of Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island is an island in the southern part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It has a population of 1,289,500 and its population density is 16,390/km², as of 2008...

, Hong Kong, the Cenotaph in Malaysia
Tugu Negara
The National Monument is a sculpture that commemorates those who died in Malaysia's struggle for freedom, principally against the Japanese occupation during World War II and the Malayan Emergency, which lasted from 1948 until 1960. It is located in the Federal capital, Kuala Lumpur...

, the Cenotaph in Singapore
The Cenotaph, Singapore
The Cenotaph is a war memorial located within the Esplanade Park at Connaught Drive, within the Central Area in Singapore's central business district.-History:The inscription at the base of The Cenotaph reads:...

 and the Cenotaph in Colombo
Cenotaph War Memorial, Colombo
The Cenotaph War Memorial in Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo, Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to the men and women from Ceylon died during the two world wars, it comprises a towering Cenotaph and Memorial Walls. It was originally built in the 1920s to remember both Ceylonese and Europeans from Ceylon who...

 were erected as memorials to the war dead of World War I.

The Church of Santa Engrácia
Church of Santa Engrácia
The Church of Santa Engrácia is a 17th century monument of the city of Lisbon, in Portugal. In the 20th century the church has been converted into the National Pantheon , in which important Portuguese personalities are buried...

, in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, Portugal, turned into a National Pantheon since 1966, holds six cenotaphs, namely to Luís de Camões
Luís de Camões
Luís Vaz de Camões is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas...

, Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it...

, Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque[p][n] was a Portuguese fidalgo, or nobleman, an admiral whose military and administrative activities as second governor of Portuguese India conquered and established the Portuguese colonial empire in the Indian Ocean...

, Nuno Álvares Pereira
Nuno Álvares Pereira
Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira, O. Carm. , also spelled Nun'Álvares Pereira, was a Portuguese general of great success who had a decisive role in the 1383-1385 Crisis that assured Portugal's independence from Castile...

, Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

 and Henry the Navigator.

One of the most famous cenotaphs is the concrete Memorial Cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
is a memorial park in the center of Hiroshima, Japan. It is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb's direct and indirect victims ....

, designed by Kenzo Tange
Kenzo Tange
was a Japanese architect, and winner of the 1987 Pritzker Prize for architecture. He was one of the most significant architects of the 20th century, combining traditional Japanese styles with modernism, and designed major buildings on five continents. Tange was also an influential protagonist of...

 to commemorate the 200,000 victims of the August 1945 atomic bomb attack
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

.

A cenotaph was erected inside the Manila North Cemetery
Manila North Cemetery
The Manila North Cemetery , which measures 54 hectares, is considered the biggest and one of the oldest cemeteries in Metro Manila. Beside it are two other important cemeteries, namely the La Loma Cemetery and the Manila Chinese Cemetery...

 in the Philippines in honor of the
24 Scouts who died in a plane crash en route to the 11th World Scout Jamboree
11th World Scout Jamboree
The 11th World Scout Jamboree was held in August 1963 and was hosted by Greece at Marathon.The largest contingent for this event was the British, with almost 1,200 Scouts attending ....

.

The Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, contains a number of centophs including one for Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

,who is buried in Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

.

Cenotaphs for the missing


Although most notable cenotaphs commemorate notable individuals buried elsewhere, many cenotaphs pay tribute to people whose remains have never been located. Two such cenotaphs are dedicated to victims of the RMS Titanic, whose bodies were not recovered after the sinking. The cenotaph of Ida Straus
Ida Straus
Ida Straus, born Rosalie Ida Blun was an American homemaker and wife of the co-owner of the Macy's department store. She and her husband Isidor died on board the RMS Titanic.-Early life:...

 serves as the gravestone for her husband Isidor Straus
Isidor Straus
Isidor Straus —a German Jewish American—was co-owner of the Macy's department store with his brother Nathan. He also served briefly as a member of the United States House of Representatives...

 at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, and the striking cenotaph of Major Archibald Butt
Archibald Butt
Major Archibald Willingham Butt was an influential military aide to U.S. presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Before becoming an aide to Roosevelt, Butt had pursued a career in journalism and served in the Spanish-American War...

, aide to President William Taft, is located at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

.

Cenotaphs in art



Cenotaphs have also been the subject of a number of famous illustrations, notably:
  • The Cenotaph to Reynold's Memory (John Constable
    John Constable
    John Constable was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection...

    , c. 1833)
  • Elevation for Newton's Cenotaph, Perspective (Etienne-Louis Boullée
    Étienne-Louis Boullée
    Étienne-Louis Boullée was a visionary French neoclassical architect whose work greatly influenced contemporary architects and is still influential today.- Life :...

    , c. 1785)
  • The Cenotaph of Jean Jacques Rousseau (Hubert Robert
    Hubert Robert
    Hubert Robert , French artist, was born in Paris.His father, Nicolas Robert, was in the service of François-Joseph de Choiseul, marquis de Stainville a leading diplomat from Lorraine...

    , 1794)

Chhatris (cenotaphs) in India



In India, cenotaphs are a basic element of Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 architecture borrowed from Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Islam to the present day, influencing the design and construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture....

, as seen in most of the mausoleums of Mughal Emperors which have two burial chambers, the upper one with a cenotaph, as in Humayun's Tomb, Delhi or the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a white Marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal...

, Agra
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

, while the real tomb often lies exactly below it, or further removed. The term chhatri
Chhatri
Chhatris are elevated, dome-shaped pavilions used as an element in Indian architecture. Chhatris are commonly used to depict the elements of of pride and honor in the Rajput architecture of Rajasthan. They are widely used, in palaces, in forts, or to demarcate funerary sites...

, used for these canopylike structures, comes from Hindustani
Hindustani language
Hindi-Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language and the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan. It is also known as Hindustani , and historically, as Hindavi or Rekhta...

 word literally meaning umbrella, and are found throughout the northwestern region of Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

 as well as in Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh , often called the Heart of India, is a state in central India. Its capital is Bhopal and Indore is the largest city....

 and Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

. In the Shekhawati
Shekhawati
Shekhawati is a semi-arid historical region located in the northeast part of Rajasthan, India got its name from Shekhawat Rajputs....

 region of Rajasthan, chhatris are built on the cremation sites of wealthy or distinguished individuals. Chhatris in Shekhawati may consist of a simple structure of one dome raised by four pillars to a building containing many domes and a basement with several rooms. In some places, the interior of the chhatri is painted in the same manner as the Haveli
Haveli
Haveli is the term used for a private mansion in India and Pakistan. The word haveli is derived from the Persian word hawli, meaning "an enclosed place"...

.

See also

  • Grave (burial)
    Grave (burial)
    A grave is a location where a dead body is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries....

  • Shrine of Remembrance
    Shrine of Remembrance
    The Shrine of Remembrance, located in Kings Domain on St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia was built as a memorial to the men and women of Victoria who served in World War I and is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in war...

     in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
    Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
    Tomb of the Unknown Soldier refers to a grave in which the unidentifiable remains of a soldier are interred. Such tombs can be found in many nations and are usually high-profile national monuments. Throughout history, many soldiers have died in wars without their remains being identified...

  • War memorial
    War memorial
    A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or to commemorate those who died or were injured in war.-Historic usage:...


Further reading


External links