Cheap Cremation Urns
The use of clay to create utilitarian vessels and art is one of the world's oldest crafts. The "Venus of Dolni Vestonice" is the oldest known clay figurine and dates back some 30,000 years to the Paleolithic age. When the first ceramic cremation urns were first created is not documented, but is likely to have a very long history as well, since cremation has been practiced in many cultures since the dawn of humanity.
History of Ceramic Cremation Urns
Examples of ceramic cremation urns have been found in Greece and elsewhere in the Meditteranean region that date back to the 10th century BCE. The ancient Greeks adopted the practice of cremation from an unknown neighboring culture and then passed it on to the Romans. There are exquisite examples of Etruscan urns from as far back as 600 BCE. In the Baltic regions, burial urns have been discovered that are elaborately decorated with ancient cosmological symbols.
The cremation practices of the Greeks and Romans are well documented. In Greece and Rome, preserving the cremated remains of respected and revered individuals was a requirement, while it was optional for the general populace. Greek soldiers of high rank, for instance, were cremated and their remains kept in urns. Roman emperors were cremated in an elaborate ceremony that included the release of an eagle to symbolize his release into the heavens and his status as a god. Cremation was such a common ritual in Roman times that large structures called "columbaria" were built to house ceramic cremation urns.
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Interestingly, a Roman emperor was ultimately responsible for the near disappearance of cremation in Western culture. After Emperor Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire, cremation was replaced by burial except in times of famine and plague. It remained a contentious issue, though and never completely disappeared, even after Charlemagne outlawed the practice.
Ceramic Cremation Urns Today
While cremation nearly died out in the West for 1500 years, the ceramic arts did not and when cremation again began to increase in popularity in the 20th century, ceramic artists were ready to meet the increasing demand for cremation urns. Today, there is an astonishing variety of ceramic cremation urns available online. The ranges in price, originality and quality are as great as they are for ceramics in general.
The cheapest urns are those that are mass produced, usually in China. The fact that they are cheap does not necessarily mean that they are not beautiful. Just as you can buy a cheap vase for your flowers that you are not ashamed to display in your home, you can find a cheap urn that is suitable for display. However, most people who choose these cheaper urns use them for burial.
When you are buying a fine china dinnerware set, you don't need to go to a ceramic artist - you simply buy a more expensive brand. Similarly, you can find stunning ceramic cremation containers from the better manufacturers. Porcelain boxes with figurines are very popular, as are gold embossed porcelain urns. As a rule, these better quality porcelain vessels cost much more than the cheaper versions. For example, one advertised ceramic urn with a floral design on a deep blue background was priced at just under $170, while a porcelain urn of similar appearance but with gold embossing and finer detailing cost $400.
Ceramics as an art form underwent a renaissance in the 1960s that continues to this day. As a result, many breathtaking examples of contemporary ceramic cremation urns can be found online. Some of these works have been displayed in galleries and museums throughout the United States and Europe. The finer examples by the best known artists can cost thousands of dollars. However, it is also possible to find wonderful urns by artists online for remarkably low prices. For example, one ceramic artist offers a richly detailed earthenware "Spirit Urn" for around $400. While this particular piece would not appeal to everyone, there is no denying its quality and uniqueness.
One of a kind and custom made ceramic cremation urns like this are very popular, because of the deeply personal nature of cremation. We all share common emotions about death, but at the same time, we have completely individual feelings about the individual who has passed on. When we look for a vessel to contain their remains, we want something that is a unique reminder of them and one that reflects our deepest personal sentiments and spiritual beliefs. One person will want an urn that reflects their religious belief, while another may want a whimsical piece that makes them smile in remembrance every time they look at it.
In his poem, "Ode on a Grecian Urn," John Keats wrote, "Truth is beauty, beauty truth." The meaning of these words has been debated ever since, but something about them resonates with everyone. Death is a time when we set aside our mundane concerns and ponder the mysteries of life and death. When selecting ceramic cremation urns, we all seem to instinctively look for a beautiful vessel, without really asking ourself why. Perhaps Keat has the answer.