A variation of the basic Tree Shaped Tombstone is something I have come to call the "Tree and the Book". It combines literal and allegorical images in an interesting fashion. We have The Tree of Life, and a literal stump. We have a book that could be telling the story of a life or of a family....and we have a literal Bible. It is the sort of monument that encourages you to stop a moment and look it over.
The effect is something like a podium. I can imagine somebody standing here giving an address to a scattered and quite undemonstrative audience.
First lets start with what I consider to be the classic style. Waist high, book open for all to read. Interesting that the book is always turned to a middle page. Family stories go on after individuals are gone. And of course aesthetically the image is pleasingly symmetrical that way.
If a family opts for the taller, showier version then of course it makes no sense to put the Book on top. In this case the volume is generally displayed in a vertical configuration. I am not sure if the inscriptions shown in this type were better to start with or as seems more likely, if a more horizontal orientation subjects the stone to more natural wear. Pounding rain, freezing and thawing ice, bird droppings...
This is what I was talking about. Notice how the lower portion in particular is fading away from view.
Depending on the quality of stone and the local environmental conditions, even Books oriented more upright can show advanced degradation.
Most of the time the Book is open. But not always. Does this signify a Life closed? A family in which the last descendant passed away? It just seems in some sense more allegorical. With a literal Bible you would want people to be able to receive the Message.
Here is an Odd Fellow. Figuratively. The Book is made of a different type of stone. Nicer in a way, but not weathering well.
And with a closer look we see that we have an Odd Fellow.....literally. In place of the usual names and dates, or the less common Scriptural reference, we get insignia of two different Fraternal Organizations. The measuring calipers of The Masons and the linked chain of The Odd Fellows.