Watch video: Decoding mystery behind hanging coffins of China, Phillipines

Despite the passage of time, the precise rationale behind this burial practice remains elusive, captivating the imagination of historians and travelers alike.

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New Delhi: In remote regions of China and certain Southeast Asian countries, a peculiar sight greets travelers: old coffins suspended on the steep faces of high hills. Some of these coffins have endured for thousands of years, remnants of ancient civilizations shrouded in mystery. Despite the passage of time, the precise rationale behind this burial practice remains elusive, captivating the imagination of historians and travelers alike.

Burial customs of the Bo, Gui people

The enigmatic tradition of hanging coffins traces its origins to the ancient Bo and Gui people of southern China. Unlike conventional burial practices, these communities eschewed interment in favor of placing deceased loved ones in coffins and suspending them from lofty hilltops. This unique funerary custom was not confined to the Bo and Gui alone but extended to various minority groups across Asia, including the Philippines and Indonesia.

Spiritual Significance, practical considerations

While the exact symbolism behind this unconventional burial method remains ambiguous, it is believed that the Bo people viewed it as a means to facilitate the departed souls' ascent to heaven. Additionally, practical benefits accompanied this practice, such as protecting the remains from scavenging animals and minimizing decomposition. Moreover, by forgoing traditional burial grounds, land was conserved for agricultural purposes, highlighting the pragmatic ingenuity of ancient societies.

Modern remnants of architectural marvels

Today, vestiges of this ancient tradition persist in the central and southern provinces of China, particularly in the secluded valleys along the Yangtze River. Some of the oldest hanging coffins, dating back over three millennia, can be found in Fujian province, offering poignant glimpses into bygone eras. Crafted from a single piece of wood, these coffins vary in shape and size, often perched on natural ledges or affixed to mountainous outcrops.

Sagada: Testament to human ingenuity

In the Philippines, the town of Sagada on Luzon Island boasts a striking array of hanging coffins, secured to the rugged mountainside by nails or ropes. Each coffin, weighing approximately a quarter ton, serves as a testament to the resourcefulness and determination of ancient civilizations. Transporting these hefty artifacts to such lofty heights posed considerable challenges, underscoring the remarkable feats achieved by our forebears.

Unraveling the mysteries of the Bo People

The Bo tribe, renowned for its unconventional practices, defied societal norms with their distinctive customs. Notably, adults within the community deliberately removed their teeth, a tradition observed in various regions of South China and Southeast Asia to this day. Despite their enigmatic legacy, the Bo tribe faced eventual demise at the hands of Ming dynasty rulers, leaving behind a legacy of intrigue and curiosity.

The tradition of hanging coffins stands as a testament to the ingenuity, spirituality and resilience of ancient civilizations. As these remnants of the past continue to captivate contemporary audiences, they serve as poignant reminders of humanity's enduring quest for understanding and connection with the mysteries of life and death.