The Book of the Dead, used by the ancient Egyptians as a set of instructions for the afterlife, is considered to be one of the the first illustrated manuscripts. In the earlier versions the scribe designed the manuscript. If it was to be illustrated, blank areas were left that the artist would fill in as best he could. Then the vignettes became more important and dominated the design.*
today we deal with the dead in a different way
we've lost that magic connection we used to have with our dead. the simplicity and functionalism of the design of today's dead speaks for itself: a sort of factory of the dead.
Holland Cemetery, Oklahoma
*check this link for a detailed discussion of many of the illustrations.