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

Jaun, église

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 ?


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”.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


25 Responses to “in peace”

  1. montucky said

    What a truly wonderful way to help remember!

  2. sonali said

    Thank you very much for sharing this Isa. Such a wonderful creation! When ever I die, I’d love to die and be here. How I wish….

  3. Sartenada said

    This is wonderful! I really enjoyed this post, because I love wooden carvings in their many forms. These are art – real art.

    • Hello Matti, I thought you might like this post. You shared so many wonderful Finnish sculptures with us, it was my turn to show you a little of our woodcarving art. Thank you and best wishes.

      • Sartenada said

        Probably You do not know that I love cemeteries. When I shoot photos from our churches, I visit at same time cemeteries. On many cemeteries there are art – mainly statues which tell history. My favorite cemetery is Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Last May when I celebrated my 70 years anniversary we again visited it. Have You ever been there?

        In Finland we have so called Pro Patria statues nearly on every small cemeteries. Yet today after ww2, they are important to us. I have two posts presenting them, but I give here the link to the first post.

        War memorials.

        War was hard to us. We who were born during the war were suffered from lack of everything during many years. During the war 70000 children were evacuated from Finland. 15000 never came back meaning that families were finally separated. This was one tiny story about our people’s sufferings.

        Well, I hope that You enjoy my Pro Patria statues.

      • No, I did not know you loved cemeteries, Matti. I have never been yet to the Père Lachaise in Paris but I often it is a “must” while visiting Paris. I commented on your post War Memorials :

        I did admire your Pro Patria sculptures and understand why they were created. So much suffering Finnish people endured during WWII and how you honored all those who fought and passed. Thank you for adding your own thoughts on this post. I appreciate it.

  4. Carsten said

    It is a nice tour of the beautiful cemetery. I also enjoyed the scenery behind the fine carvings.
    It’s with cemeteries as with many good photographs: They get one to think and make up stories to match what you see.

  5. […] in Jaun, a small village in the Gruyère area of the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland. Click here to see her wonderful […]

  6. shoreacres said

    Oh, Isa! What a lovely post. I just added a link to it on my new blog entry because, entirely by coincidence, I posted photos of another kind of cemetery: quite different, but equally touching, and lovely.

    The carvings are wonderful. I so much like the way the memorials are similar, yet different. Each individual is honored so beautifully. All of the pieces fit together so well: the church, the graves, the mountains. The sense of community extended through time is palpable.

    And the flowers, too, are beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to show us this.

    • Thank you, dear Linda, for your enthusiastic comments and for adding a link on your blog entry. I have not read it yet, I was away the past week, my Dad has some serious health issues. I look forward, as usual, to reading your own blog and see this other kind of cemetery.

      Thanks a lot for your “fidélité” even though I am not as regular in writing as I wished.

  7. versana said

    Fabulous tribute to the ordinary made extraordinary by the remembrance!

  8. How wonderful for someone to create this sort of artwork and then to have other artists carry on the tradition. The stained glass window is such a treasure also. So beautiful..

  9. Truels said

    Thank you for showing us this wonderful idea – letting this creative artwork tell stories about all buried in the cemetery to the bereaved and all others…..

  10. Giiid said

    This beautiful tradition is truly fascinating. I always enjoy seeing your photos and read your words. So calm and well balanced.

  11. Tammy said

    Thank you for sharing this. I am working on some ideas of healthy towns and I would like to share them with you at some point. I want to see if they cross borders.

  12. Thank you for sharing this. I had never heard of this cemetery before. What a unique way to say, “we remember you”.

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