During my recent trip to Croatia, a long walk through the hills surrounding the coastal village of Zuljana reminded me of how much burial customs vary between different countries and regions. We came across a hilltop church and its compact graveyard, set into the hillside and constructed as a series of terraces into which the graves had been excavated.
I was inspired to get some shots, not only of the kitsch paraphernalia piled atop each tomb – including pensive angels, flickering battery-operated candles and long-faded plastic bouquets – but also the different typefaces employed and the inclusion of photographs of the dead. Most intriguingly, many of the graves are family plots, indicated by the Croatian word 'Obitelj'. And the names of those family members yet to die are included.
So the Matic grave featured Margarita (1926-1998) and Kresimir (1927-....). So poor old Kresimir is reminded of his mortality every time he visits the grave of his beloved Margarita. And what if you visited the grave one day, and found an end date next to your name?
Visitors with long memories may recall I have a long-term interest in this subject, and wrote about cemetery design in 'Death becomes us', Blueprint, May 2004.