Symbolism Sunday, The Hourglass

September 5, 2010

Another Sunday is upon us and you’re obviously in a rush, so I won’t keep you long. As a matter of fact, I’m going to be downright kind to you with this easy one.

The hourglass. If you don’t know what an hourglass represents, then you may not know what one actually is. I mean, really, even chefs use these when cooking eggs. Oh well. If you know what it is, then you know what it does (here’s a hint; it measures time) and when used in the context of someone’s lifespan, you can join the dots.

Yes, the hourglass. Time’s inevitable passing the attribute of death and Father Time, representing the passage of time and the shortness of life. Combine that with a skeleton or a depiction of death holding one and you’ve also got a powerful memento mori statement for living, notifying the wearer of the final judgement and the fragility of life and shortness of time.

Look for the hourglass in 17th and early 18th century pieces, but it’s not uncommon to find in latter 18th century pieces (see the anachronistic motifs in the pictured sepia piece).

There, that wasn’t hard. Until next Sunday!

2 Responses to “Symbolism Sunday, The Hourglass”


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