Field Guide

Curtain (Veil)

The veil, which in funerary art usually looks more like a curtain, is a symbol of the passage from one type of existence to another. Veils are meant to protect as well as conceal. The veil that covered the Ark of the Covenant was meant to protect mere mortals from its radiance. Christians had a new interpretation of the Ark of the Covenant, which they called Glory of the New Covenant. It is explained in 2 Corinthians 3:

13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Taken from Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written and photographed by Douglas Keister, published by Gibbs Smith, Salt Lake City, 2004.

Drapery, Curtain, or Veil

Mourning or mortality. They signify the last partition between life and death or the passage from one life to another. It is also commonly seen on graves accompanied by an urn or willow tree.

Taken from Our History In Stone: The New England Cemetery Dictionary by Christina Eriquez, published by Sinematix, Brookfield, CT, 2009.