Measuring Life with the Sands of Time

by T-Knox

Hourglasses depict the message that “time flies” however an hourglass on its side means that time has stopped.

The hourglass remains a symbol of the passing of our lives; serving as a reminder that life is indeed finite and death is certain. Others have referred to the hourglass as a symbol of the present and that the time in a day is the underlying difference between the past and future. Some images of the hourglass have wings as a metaphor for the wavering of our lives.

Due to its association with death the hourglass has also been depicted on pirate flags to warn other sailors to stay at bay. In England the dead took an hourglass to the grave with them, having them buried with the deceased in the coffin. They also adorned the fronts of coffins and gravestones with an image of the hourglass. Despite its deadly connotations, the hourglass still portrays time whether as a timekeeper in your favorite boardgames, the icon used by older Windows systems for program loading or in the game of life.

This prominent symbol was featured in vanitas, also known as funerary art throughout the medieval ages in Europe. Nestled beside skulls which are a trademark for death, decaying fruit which symbolizes aging, and personal items of the deceased, the hourglass is always present.

On a lighter note Days of Our Lives fans may be familiar with the opening credits of the soap opera, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” The sands of time will filter down for each and everyone of us. Yet an hourglass can be overturned which, in essence, can turn back the clock, perhaps for a new life after death, or the continuation of the present life.

Read more:

The Hourglass’s Uncertain History Retrospect | Apartment Therapy New York

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