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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Lynchburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

African Burial Customs

Presented by the Old City Cemetery

 
 
African Burial Customs Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, August 14, 2021
1. African Burial Customs Marker
Inscription.  
When African slaves came to America, they brought their culture with them, including their own languages, foods, styles of dress, and burial customs. This exhibit shows a few of the West African burial and funeral traditions practiced during the time of the American slave trade (1550-1850). These customs and their meanings varied depending on the region of Africa and the time period.

Grave Goods honor the departed spirit and prevent it from wandering or returning to haunt the living

Lamps and bonfires on the grave lead the soul of the deceased to glory

Bed frames symbolize "resting in peace" while the spirit journeys to avoid the world of the dead

Ancestral spirits can be seen in the bright reflection of sunlight on mirror pieces and other shiny objects

Seashells, especially white shells, represent the world of the dead, which is white and connected to the world of the living by water or the ocean

Dishes and jars are often broken to release their spirits and prevent the soul of the deceased from returning in search of them

Bottle
African Burial Customs Display image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, August 14, 2021
2. African Burial Customs Display
Click or scan to see
this page online
trees
outside the home protect the household from evil spirits and thieves. The bottles lure evil spirits and trap them inside. Dirt from the grave is often placed in the bottles.

Sacrifice a white chicken over the grave to release the powers of the spirit world

Tie up the mouth to contain the soul and keep it from wandering

[Caption:]
Regions where these customs were practiced

Most come from the Bakongo people of west-central Africa

 
Erected 2001 by Southern Memorial Association.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyCemeteries & Burial SitesChurches & ReligionSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1550.
 
Location. 37° 24.916′ N, 79° 9.508′ W. Marker is in Lynchburg, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Taylor Street, 0.3 miles north of 4th Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 401 Taylor St, Lynchburg VA 24501, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cemetery Caretakers (a few steps from this marker); Hearse House & Caretakers' Museum (a few steps from this marker); Gravemarkers in the Old City Cemetery (a few steps from this marker); Gravestone Carvers in the Old City Cemetery
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(a few steps from this marker); Julia Whitely Branch Family (a few steps from this marker); Julia Whiteley Branch (a few steps from this marker); Gravestone Style & Material (within shouting distance of this marker); Old City Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lynchburg.
 
Additional keywords. human trafficking; slave trade
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 18, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 59 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 18, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Jan. 24, 2022