Hanging Coffins – Unusual Funeral Customs

hanging coffin

Not content with being buried in the ground the people of Sagada in the Philippines and the Bo people of southern China choose instead to put their deceased into handmade wooden coffins and suspending them from limestone cliffs.

Gongxian County of southwest China’s Sichuan province is known as China’s natural museum of hanging coffins or the ‘Hanging Coffins of Bo People’ , with nearly 300 well-preserved coffins remaining.

Hanging coffins was the most common form of burial in ancient southern China but it is not done any longer .

In the Philippines on the Cliffs of Sagada, hundreds of coffins are suspended on the mountain. Mountains were always held as sacred places and it was said that the hanging coffins would bring them closer to heaven and could prevent bodies from being taken by beasts (as well as washed away by floods!)

Here the elderly make their own coffins from hollowed out logs and the body is smoked to preserve for the five day pre-burial feast before being fitted into the tight space of the coffin which often requires breaking the deceased’s bones – after they have been placed in the coffin they are then bought to the mountainside to join their ancestors either suspended on the cliff or placed in a cave.

 You can read more about funeral customes in the Philippines here.

This has now become quite an attraction and many bones are often stolen by visiting tourists! (not sure how they’d get that back through customs!)  

If you could choose to place your coffin anywhere, high or low, where would it be?

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