Dignified Elephant Cremation Urns

 by Maggie Thompson


Elephant Urns

I meant what I said and I said what I meant! An elephant’s faithful 100 percent. - Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg


Since ancient times, elephants have captured the fascination of human beings. Their astounding intelligence, as observed in their sophisticated communication, mourning rituals and deep sense of family ties, fascinates the minds and hearts of many. It is no surprise that elephant cremation urns are a pleasing option for families who have chosen cremation and are now at the point of narrowing down their selection.

Why choose an elephant urn?

Choosing an urn is an emotional decision, best arrived at through thoughtful conversation with family members, which can be a satisfying aspect of the funeral or memorial planning process. Elephant urns can evoke a heart-warming array of images, entwining memories of a loved one. The elephant allows for much rich symbolism, honoring attributes of wisdom, empathy, and remarkable devotion to family.

If you’re drawn to the elephant urn, consider its appeal for -

  • The elephant lover

My friend Kendra traveled all the way to northern Thailand to an elephant sanctuary where she was able to spend quality time caring for and handling these impressive creatures. She experienced unexpected tenderness as well as first hand witness to their engaging intelligence.

  • One who identifies with an elephant’s qualities

In China the elephant is a symbol of power, dignity, intelligence and peace. In many other cultures, they symbolize strength, wisdom, good luck and prosperity. In Buddhist legend, the white elephant is seen as auspicious and it enjoys royal status in Thailand.  In Indian mythology, Lord Ganesha, one of the most popular Indian deities, known as the Lord of Wisdom, bears human form with an elephant head, symbolizing great intellect and astuteness.

  • One who appreciates artistic renderings of elephants

The Proud Elephant Bamboo Box features an African elephant as might be seen walking majestically in the wild. The Ceramic Circus Elephant Urn and the Regal Elephant Urn (shown above) have the same depiction of an ornately adorned Asian elephant but in differing urn shapes. The Parade Elephant has the look of Chinese brush painting in watery navy blues and ivory, showing the elephant with a festive robe and headpiece.

The Regal Elephant

Integral to many cultures

In bygone eras elephants were used as working animals. In Asia they cleared forests, assisted in the construction of temples and other large buildings, and were used for transportation.  Ancient kings of Siam used elephants to ride into battle. The more elephants a king had, the more status and power he enjoyed. In 1861 when King Rama IV of Thailand found out that Abraham Lincoln had no elephants, he offered to send a few to help in the Civil War. President Lincoln gently declined the offer. 

Today, logging is the only utilitarian use that still involves elephants. Tourism has become a new major use in all countries where elephants live. In Africa, elephant-back safaris in Botswana, Zambia and South Africa have gained appeal. Elephants continue to be favorites, appreciated in the wild around the world.

Elephants are integral to the forest and savanna ecosystems of Asia and Africa. The World Wildlife Foundation notes, "It is calculated that at least a third of tree species in central African forests rely on elephants in this way for distribution of seeds." Sadly the elephant today is threatened. "The most urgent threat to elephants is large-scale poaching to supply the illegal ivory trade. Other threats facing elephants in Africa and Asia include conflict with humans and habitat loss and degradation."

Elephant family structure and social life

Elephants are a matriarchal society, with herds being made up of and lead by females. The matriarch is usually the oldest and largest, while her immediate family herd includes daughters, nieces and sisters. Juvenile males begin spending less time with their mothers and aunts as they enter their teenage years. Eventually the males roam alone or in a small bachelor pod of young males in search of mates and food. In the wild, elephants can live to 70 years.

The elephants’ exceptional communication, emotion and intelligence

Elephants communicate by touch, sight, smell and sound using infrasound and seismic communication over long distances. They appear to have self-awareness, insight and understanding of emotion. They have been found celebrating the birth of a calf, tending to the sick or injured, and mourning the death of a loved one in ways never before seen in animals.

Elephants love reunions. They recognize one another after years and years of separation and greet each other with wild boisterous joy. There’s bellowing and trumpeting, ear flapping and rubbing. Trunks entwine.

- Jennifer Richardson Jacobson, Small as an Elephant

Thus, elephant ceramic urns for ashes and elephant cremation boxes capture an array of heart-warming emotions. The resonant images are replete with symbolism and the elephant’s attributes of wisdom, empathy, intelligence, and family.

Maggie Shopen Thompson, MFA, is a freelance writer and writing workshop facilitator in Montpelier, Vermont. She has had experience as a caregiver for her mother many years ago, and for her husband and daughter during their recent cancer treatments and recoveries. She is a contributing author/artist in Healing Art & Writing – using creativity to meet illness, curated and edited by Patricia Fontaine, published in August 2016.

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