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025. owls

Symbolism is tricky to discuss since any number of different attributes can be assigned to a single image. Certainly Greeks used the owl as a symbol of wisdom, & it eventually came to represent the goddess Athena. According to “Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism & Iconography” by Douglas Keister, owls can also signify watchfulness & contemplative solitude. Common behavior of owls can be provide comfort when associated with a cemetery, assuring vigilance during a family’s darkest hour.

The first owl anyone sees as they enter Recoleta Cemetery is the large, mustard-colored one on the entrance gate. Be sure to look up:

Owl, Recoleta Cemetery

Others are less obvious & used for ornamentation:

Owl, Recoleta Cemetery

Owl, Recoleta Cemetery

If interested, check out the tombs of Ernesto Bunge or Manuel Alcorta for more images of owls.

Published inSymbols


  1. Helena Helena

    In the beautiful mausoleum of the Paz Family there is also an owl standing near the coffin in the upper part sculpture. And another bird on the other side. I don´t know what kind of bird it is

    • Very true, Helena… most people don’t notice the owl since there’s so much going on in that sculpture. I mention the other bird in the post for José C. Paz… it’s a dove which typically represents peace. Very appropriate.

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