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A Week In the Bayou, Day 5(a): May 5, 2008

May 21st, 2008 (12:55 am)
sleepy

current mood: sleepy

I spent part of the morning of May 5 in a cemetery. New Orleans cemeteries are distinctive. The graves are built above ground, because the land is so low. Some have wrought-iron or cast-iron fences around them. There are individual graves, and there are also family mausoleums, as well as large mausoleums erected by various organizations or immigrant groups, for use of their members who couldn't afford individual space.

The cemetery I visited is the oldest in town, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, on the edge of the French Quarter. It dates back to 1789. I was fascinated by the layering of stone, brick, and metal; the variety of textures; and the gradations of color throughout the cemetery. The stone and brick range from weathered and dilapidated to shiny, clean, and new.

I'm not going to bother with captions for these, since they're mostly self-explanatory. The only one that requires further explanation is the photo with the toy dinosaur. The stone is so weathered you can no longer read it; nonetheless, this is one of the most famous graves in the city. It's the grave of Marie Laveaux, the powerful voodoo priestess of the 18th and 19th century. Practitioners of voodoo still visit her tomb to leave offerings, which apparently include lipsticks, pennies, and toy dinosaurs. Also a hotel room key card (Sheraton), which doesn't show up in this shot. They have written "XXX" all over the sides of the tomb, as well, inscriptions that also cannot be seen from this angle. Supposedly, all of these tributes have some meaning in their belief system, but I wasn't in town long enough to research the subject.

These are only a small fraction of all the photos I took in the cemetery that morning. Nonetheless, there are a lot here, so I'm posting them as thumbnails to take up less space. You can click on one if you want a closer look.


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