FUNERARY ARCHITECTURE

From times immemorial the human race has been marking death with construction. We have evolved from the simplicity of mere moss strewn rocks to engraved tombstones. But man's need to be immortalized sometimes exceeds the humility of a tombstone, hence the grand erections of monuments, pyramids and magnificent mausoleums. Although it may not be within our means, and our monetary situation or social disposition form an impassable crevasse in our dream for a gargantuan memorial, we do find that funerary architecture - although forgotten until times of death- is significant in its own style.

It is quite understandable that the vivacious and animated youth of today fail to spare a single thought for such matters, but it would be an astonishing point indeed to come across an individual journeying towards the twilight of their days who neglect to ponder upon how they would like to leave this world. The weeping women, the grim faced gentlemen and the holy priest all in a dreary scene before a design that will forever mark your death. It’s quite remarkable really, when one thinks about it, how important funerary architecture really is. It becomes the one constant tangible entity that represents your time on earth. A lot of responsibility for an architect don't you think? Not really!

People don't really care much anymore, or don't have the means to justify the ceremonious grandeur of death. If they did, they would have been more creative than plain old tombstones. They are well satisfied with bland grey rocks with a few clichéd phrases about love and life, engraved in bold upon the face of a stone slab. As years pass, only a select few will ever come by to maintain or even place a few flowers to beautify your final resting place. The once slick stone will turn to shades of russet brown and the world will have ultimately forgotten you amongst the plethora of other tombstones surrounding you. So, if we are to meaningfully comment upon appropriate funerary architecture we must look deep into the volumes of history to find those men and women who truly embodied the ideals I want to discuss.

The Taj Mahal, one the worlds eight wonders, is the epitome of memorial architecture. A structure built in memory of the wife of Shah Jahan, the Mughal ruler during the early 1600's. The tomb within is the focus of the entire building, illustrating the true love shared by the noble couple. A monument worthy of royalty and the crystallization of their passion and rule. The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan is another worthy example, a beautiful dedication to the once legendary warrior stands amongst the few standing funerary masterpieces. It was chosen to be a symbol that represents Inner Mongolia, a structure to be respected as well as admired.
By Leander N. Dias

FUNERARY ARCHITECTURE