Cenotaph

From Academic Kids

The Cenotaph, London
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The Cenotaph, London
Contents

Overview

A cenotaph is a tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek words kenos, "empty" and taphos, "tomb".

The Cenotaph, London

Probably the best-known cenotaph in the modern world is the one that stands in Whitehall, London. It was constructed from Portland stone between 1919-1920 by Sir Edwin Lutyens to replace an identical plaster cenotaph erected in 1919 for the Allied Victory Parade. It is undecorated save for a carved wreath on each end and the words "The Glorious Dead". It is flanked on each side by the flags of the United Kingdom, the Royal Navy, the British Army, the Royal Air Force and the Merchant Navy. The Cenotaph is the site of the annual national service of remembrance held at 11 a.m. on the closest Sunday to the 11th November (Armistice Day). Uniformed service personnel always salute the Cenotaph as they pass - it was, for example, very noticeably the only salute made by the Royal Horse Artillery driver of Diana, Princess of Wales's funeral carriage during the procession (on this occasion he did not even salute the Queen).

Cenotaphs around the world

Memorial Cenotaph, Hiroshima, Japan
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Memorial Cenotaph, Hiroshima, Japan

Cenotaphs have been erected in many countries around the world since ancient times. It was a common tradition in the ancient world, with many examples built in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and across in Northern Europe (in the shape of Neolithic barrows). The practice is still continued around the world. Lutyens' cenotaph influenced the design of many other war memorials in Britain and the British sectors of the Western Front. The monument to John F. Kennedy in Dealey Plaza in Dallas is often described as a cenotaph. A building intended to serve as a tomb for Abraham Lincoln on the Mall in Washington, D. C. is literally a cenotaph, as he is not buried there, but rather in his beloved Springfield, Illinois; however, as this building is now used for the headquarters of the American Pharmaceutical Association, it is not usually thought of as such.

The cenotaph concept is by no means confined to Europe. One of the most famous non-European examples is the concrete Memorial Cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Park, designed by Kenzo Tange to commemorate the 200,000 victims of the August 1945 atomic bomb attack.

Chhatris (cenotaphs) in India

In India, cenotaphs are a basic element of Hindu architecture borrowed from Islam. They are termed chhatris, meaning canopy, and are found throughout the northwestern region of Rajasthan. In the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, chhatris are built on the cremation sites of wealthy or distinguished individuals. Chhatris in Shekhawati may consist of a simple structure of one dome raised by four pillars to a building containing many domes and a basement with several rooms. In some places, the interior of the chhatris is painted in the same manner as the Havelis.

View of Chhatri (Cenotaph) of Scindia Rulers at Shivpuri,India
View of Chhatri (Cenotaph) of Scindia Rulers at Shivpuri,India

Some of the best-known chhatris in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan are located at the following cities and towns:

Many other chhatris exist in other parts of Rajasthan. Their locations include:

  • Jaipur - Gaitore is a typical Cenotaph of the maharajas of Jaipur. Set in a narrow valley, the cenotaphs of the former rulers of Jaipur consist of the somewhat typical chhatri or umbrella-shaped memorials. Jai Singh Chhatri is particularly noteworthy because of the carvings that have been used to embellish it.
  • Jodhpur - White marble Chhatri of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II
  • Bharatpur- the cenotaphs of the members of the Jat royal family of Bharatpur, who perished whilst fighting against the British in 1825, are erected in the town of Govardhan. The chhatri of Maharaja Suraj Mal of Bharatpur has fine frescos illuminating the life of Surajmal, vividly depicting darbar and hunting scenes, royal processions and wars.
  • Udaipur-. Flanked by a row of enormous stone elephants, the Lake Pichola island has an impressive chhatri carved from gray blue stone, built by Maharana Jagat Singh.
  • Haldighati - a beautiful Chhatri with white marble columns, dedicated to Rana Pratap, stands here. The cenotaph dedicated to Chetak, Rana Pratap's famous horse, is also noteworthy.
  • Alwar - Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri is a beautiful red sandstone and white marble cenotaph of the rulers of Alwar.
  • Bundi - Suraj Chhatri and Mordi Ki Chhatri, Chaurasi Stambh Chhatri and Nath Ji ki Chhatri are located in Bundi. Rani Shyam Kumari wife of Raja Chhatrasal on the northern hill constructed the Suraj Chhatri and Mayuri the second wife of Chhatrasal on the southern hill erected Mordi Ki Chhatri.
  • Bikaner - Devi Kund near Bikaner is the royal crematorium place with a number of cenotaphs. The chhatri of Maharaja Surat Singh is most imposing. It has the spectacular Rajput paintings on the ceilings.
  • Nagaur - Nath Ji ki Chhatri, Amar Singh Rathore-ki-Chhatri

The region of Madhya Pradesh is the site of several other notable chhatris:

Cenotaphs in art

, Cénotaphe a Newton ()
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Étienne-Louis Boullée, Cénotaphe a Newton (1784)

Cenotaphs have also been the subject of a number of famous illustrations, notably:

See also

fr:Cénotaphe nl:Cenotaaf pl:Cenotaf pt:Cenotáfio

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