Different Cultures, Different Cremation Urns

In this blog we have outlined a select few styles of cremation urns for ashes from different cultures. We like to think we are good at representing a variety of artisans and cultures with the products we offer, so we have provided some examples of our inspired pieces. 

Roman Cremation Urns 

During the Imperial period, cremation became the preferred method over burial. Cremation urns were referred to as cinerary urns, ash altars, or ash chests. They came in an array of sizes, colours, shapes, and materials. 

There were many evocative forms of Roman urns, including those that resembled altars and chests.

The most prevalent materials that were used consisted of terra-cotta, glass, alabaster, and granite. The most abundant for people living in the Imperial City being terra-cotta, also known as ollae. As time passed, marble gradually became the desired material for a cremation urn as it was emblematic for the corpus of cinerary vessels. It was a good representation of the diverse aesthetic strategies which was strongly desired by people who could afford such creatively sculpted stone pieces.

Here at Urns For Angels, we have various of urns that have been inspired by Roman culture. For example, our Jupiter Cremation Urn for Ashes which is topped with terra sigillata red gloss. 

jupiter cremation urn for ashes

Greek Cremation Urns 

Throughout Greek culture, ancient Greek art stands out for its development of naturalistic but idealised depictions of the human body. This was usually a symbolic way of emphasizing the importance of human beings, and the accomplishments they had made. 

Typically, it was an honour to have your cremation urn hand painted, however this was a luxury for only the wealthiest of Greeks. There were many themes that often changed throughout history. For example, male cremation urns often had depictions of military themes or athletics. Between 900 - 700 B.C, the age of geometric art descended and a lot of urns were painted with graphics such as meanders and right-angles. In 600 B.C., Athens had moved away from abstract geometry and moved more towards art which was inspired by the near East; natural art.

Paintings often displayed religious images, representing beliefs and the way that people had lived. Greek tragedies were commonly shown such as the suicide of Ajax, to remind them of the suffering that heroes had endured and that if they could survive through that then other people could too. It served as a way to comfort people and give them the chance to persevere but by also giving them a way to relate to the deceased. 

Many cremation urns and other funerary vases were shaped to resemble liquid-holding vessels, including lekythos’, amphorae, kraters, oinochoe, and kylix cups.

Some famous examples include the Derveni Krater, which is one of the very few large bronze vessels to survive, and the Dipylon Amphora, which is a large painted vase from around 750 B.C. and is now on display in the National Archaeological Museum, situated in Athens.

Our Jupiter Cremation Urn for Ashes shown above particularly resembles the shape of an ancient Greek amphora.

Furthermore, our Phanes Cremation Urn for Ashes is exclusively inspired by Ancient Greek Designs, with it's namesake being the creator deity, Phanes.

phanes cremation urn for ashes

Nordic Cremation Urns 

Nordic funerals of cremation and scattering ashes ceremonies date back to the Viking Era. It is said that this was Odin’s way of bringing his children back to earth after their death. Odin’s son, the ancient Norse god Baldur, possessed a ship called the Hringhorni which was said to be the greatest of all ships. Upon Baldur’s death, he was placed on his ship with his wife and horse which was then launched out into the waters and set ablaze the Viking longboat by the giantess, Hyrrokkin. 

To capture the essence of this, we have our wooden Boat Cremation Urn for Ashes.

boat cremation urn for ashes

Celtic Cremation Urns 

Amongst the Celtic culture there are many symbols that you will probably see in everyday life but don’t realise. The Celtic symbols are inspired by languages and cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, and the Isle of Man. All of these symbols have a specific meaning, for example:

The Tree of Life - As it forms a full circle, it represents the continuation between life and death.

The Celtic Cross - There are four cardinal directions which represent nature and the elements.

The Dara Knot - Translating to ‘oak tree’, this is the symbol of strength due to an Oak’s complex root structure.

The Trinity Knot - This knot has three pointed sides connected by a circle, often symbolising spirituality and a universal sign of family bonds. 

There are many other Celtic symbols as these are just a select few. These symbols can be found across the many varieties of urns throughout Celtic culture, paying particular tribute to ancient heritage.

Modern urns are often made of ceramic or metal, whereas traditionally hundreds of years ago they were made of wood. Today, wood is still a popular material choice as some see it as a representation of a return to nature. 

A floral urn may give tribute to the Irish rose, and a green cremation urn representing the emerald or the shamrock.

We have a selection of urns which have a rose motif such as the White Rose Cremation Urn for ashes

We also have a selection of urns which are green, such as the Simple Ceramic Urn for Ashes - Adult.

white rose cremation urn for ashes

simple cremation urn for ashes green

Japanese Cremation Urns

Japan has the highest cremation rate in the world, with it being mandatory in most regions. 99.9% of people are now cremated in Japan. Monks experimented with cremation to emulate the cremation of the Buddha. In the 19th century, the Meiji government attempted to ban cremation, however this only lasted for two years. 

At Urns For Angels, we have a pleasant selection of raku fired urns, a method of pottery originating in Japan during the 1580's. In order to create a successful raku piece, all of Earth's elements must be used: fire, water, earth, and air. 

Our raku fired Reef Cremation Urn for Ashes especially reflects the water elements with it's crackling blue effect that crosses the face of the urn in swarming directions.

reef cremation urn for ashes

We hope this article has been informative and you have learnt something new about types of cremation urns and where they originate. 

If you have any further questions or queries please visit our other articles which are linked below:

Or feel free to contact us and we can help guide you through this difficult time.

We also advise each family to take a look at our Bereavement Support guide.

Phone Number: 0161 533 0805

Email: contact@urnsforangels.com