The Urn has been a part of human culture in numerous ways for about as long mankind has been on Earth. In today’s world, the urn is thought of mostly as a storage container for cremation ashes, and, with all of the various designs and shapes available from today’s memorial industry, the urn may very well be losing its traditional, classic look – at least as far as modern culture is concerned. But, regardless of what form the urn of the future takes, the classic look will always be a large part of mankind’s history and, therefore, it will always be – if only in a very small way – part of all cultures and traditions yet to come.
This idea that the classic shape of the urn can unite modern times with all that has occurred in the past and all that will come in the future may seem confusing, or even humorous, to some. But to dismiss this idea is to devalue all of the great traditions – such as language, religion, and an even political idea such as democracy – that mankind has handed down over the ages.
The urns classic shape is reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman architecture, which was developed for practical reasons along with the artistic. This means that we can tell, from the design, that simplicity has long been known to be an important virtue. So, we see, the popular – if somewhat rude – modern saying “keep it simple, stupid” has its roots in ideas that are as old as recorded history. Studying the urn, we see that the idea that “less is more” has been around for centuries. And so, while we said above that the urn’s classic shape seems to be becoming less and less common in modern days, the ideas behind the original urn will certainly be around for as long as men roam this planet (and maybe even longer).
Timelessness is what the urn is all about. For centuries, the urn has been used for the universal life-giving purpose of carrying water. (In today’s modern world, this use comes about because the urn is often used as a place to hold plants that have been cut and need a little water to remain fresh for a few days. That is an offshoot of – and perhaps an homage to – one of the original uses of the urn (arguably the original use), which was as a holder of drinking water.
So, as modern man continues to learn to associate urns with death and the storage of cremation ashes, it’s important from an anthropological perspective for cultures to always keep in mind that urns have a more timeless quality as well. And this property has been around for centuries and will certainly be around for many more. That may be something worth considering when browsing through the multitudes of urns that are available today to capture a loved one’s memories. The memories, captured with caution, may have a way of lasting much more than just one lifetime. That’s the urn’s important role in all cultures in which it is a significant part.