I was at a cemetary today and noticed a few interesting "icons" placed on certain tombstones. Someone explained to me the following:
- spread-out fingers used for a Cohen, representing the position of the Cohen's hands when performing the Priestly blessing
- candles on a woman's tombstone - representing the woman who lights Shabbat candles
- a tree split at its trunk - for young children - representing that the family tree ended as the person died too young to form a family
- a ship for someone whose profession involved seafaring
- a lively skeleton (for ?)
- a pitcher for a Levite
I may have missed a few other notable symbols, so please edit in, if you wish.
I'm curious when and why these symbols became customary. Which Jewish community began this custom and for what purpose?