The Hanging Coffins of China And Philippines

The ancient Bo and Guyue people of southern China did not bury their dead. Instead, they hung their coffins from tall cliffs. This peculiar burial custom was prevalent not only among the Bo and Guyue people of China, but among many other minority groups in several Asian countries such as Philippines and Indonesia. The precise reason for this kind of burial is not known. It is possible that the Bo people believed that placing the coffins high up the side of a mountain will enable the deceased to escalate to heaven easily. However, practical applications of cliff burial cannot be ruled out. One advantage of hanging the dead is that it makes the corpses inaccessible to scavengers and less vulnerable to destruction. It also keeps the ground free for cultivation.

Hanging Coffins of China

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Hanging Coffins in Sichuan province, China. Photo credit: Alexander P Bell/


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