tomb(redirected from Chest tomb)
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an architectural structure, or sarcophagus, containing the body of a dead person as distinguished from a monument erected over a grave. Monumental burial structures that serve as tombs are called mausoleums.
Tombs perpetuate in monumental architectural form and durable building materials the memory of a deceased person (originally, mainly a ruler) and by artistic means glorify his deeds. Such tombs as this are the immense ancient Egyptian pyramids, suggesting the grandeur and immortality of the divine pharaoh, and the mastabas for burying the nobility, as well as the Mycenaean vaulted tombs and the rock tombs in India, the Near East, and Etruria. A unique complex of tombs of the second and third centuries with carefully worked facades (exhibiting an original interpretation of elements of the Roman order) is found in Petra, the capital of the Nabatain Kingdom (Jordan). Cenotaphs are widespread among many peoples. Beginning in the fourth century B.C. the tendency to commemorate individual persons was expressed in monumental architectural structures in the Hellenistic world (the mausoleum, that is, the tomb of Mausolus, the king of Caria, in Halicarnassus). In their variety of form and dimension the tombs of ancient Rome are of great interest, for example, the tomb of Cecilia Metella and of Eurysakes (both from the first century B.C.), the tomb of the emperor Augustus (A.D. 28). and the tomb of the emperor Hadrian (A.D. 135–140). The monumental tombs of China and Korea are noteworthy for their skillful blend of architectural forms and for their wealth of sculptural decoration. Striking decorations, multicolored incrustations of gems and of glazed tiles are characteristic of the domed tombs of India (the Taj Mahal at Agra) and Central Asia (the Gur-Amir in Samarkand).
In Western Europe tombs were placed inside churches. European tombs usually include the recumbent sculptured figure of the deceased on the sarcophagus. Tombs of the early Middle Ages typically have little decoration, and the figure of the deceased is portrayed in a stylized manner. Later, forms and decoration gradually became more complex. Elaborate, sometimes arched, canopies were erected over the sarcophagi and numerous statues—of the Virgin, angels and mourners—were introduced, as well as reliefs with many figures. There was a striving after likeness in portraiture; at first outward resemblance was sought and. later, a vividly expressive likeness conveying the unique features of a particular personality (the tombs of the Medici by Michelangelo in the Medici chapel of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence. 1520–34). In 17th-century tombs strength of feeling and sincerity give way to an incongruous mingling of fantastic and real images, mannered expression, and virtuosity in the working of materials, as exemplified by the tombs of the Italian artist L. Bernini in St. Peter’s Church in Rome.
In the 18th and 19th centuries tombs become more severe in form and decoration, such as the mausoleum in Berlin-Charlottenburg and the tomb of M. I. Kutuzov in the Kazan Cathedral in Leningrad. The V. I. Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow is an example of the tomb architecture of our time.
M. B. MIKHAILOVA [7–1014–2; updated]