in peace

September 7, 2014

Jaun, a small village in the Gruyère area of the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland. Its cemetery, known for the beautiful woodcarvings built on each grave, depicting the life of the deceased, adds to the charm of this mountain village. I believe, these sculptures may be unique in Europe. They were created on the initiative of Walter Cottier, a self taught resident who passed in 1995. Other village artists have continued creating this most unusual artwork. I was there last week with friends and took some pictures to share with you

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Jaun’s church is surrounded by many wooden tombs, each as different as the villagers were.

Jaun, église 2According to the old table and sewing machine sculpted on the wooden grave, this lady was a dressmaker. How many pieces of clothing had she sewn in her life ?

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Another person who was remembered in the cemetery was a hunter. Between other words on his tomb I read : “Arbeit war Dein ganze Leben/Work was your whole life”.

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How could one forget the grocer ? The lady who sold all that was needed, as well as daily bread ?

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Another sculpture was dedicated to a lorry driver, an  important person in this mountain village. He would have transported wood beams, all kinds of goods, stones, and any  heavy materials people needed.

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Marie; a church and a bouquet of flowers have been sculpted on her wooden grave. Would she have  been the faithful person who, week after week, decorated the altar of the church years ago ?DSC00157

Family members, friends who are still missed,  who added their share to the life and history of the village and who now rest in peace in this lovely alpine setting. They are certainly honored in a beautiful way.

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Inside the church, the late afternoon sun was shining softly on a stained glass window.

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One can learn so much about the life of a village  – or any place – while visiting such a cemetery. Like a book whose pages you  would slowly turn with wonder and respect. My gratitude goes to the village artists who keep memory alive.

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