The Hanging Coffins

The Hanging Coffins

In this article we will be taking a look at the hanging coffins that cover the waterways of the Yangtze River in China. How did the Bo people manage to get these heavy caskets so far above the ground…over 3000 years ago?

Let’s take a closer look…


The Bo People

So who constructed these weird and wonderful cemeteries?

Well, the evidence of hanging coffins in China goes as far back as 3000 years, in the Fujian province. From this area, the trend seemed to spread through the Hubei, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces.

Around this time the Bo people entered historic records, and experts believe that it is no coincidence that the hanging coffins appeared at the same time.

The Bo people seemed to have eventually been wiped out toward the end of the Ming Dynasty. Many believe that the Ming were behind their disappearance.

The Bo People


The Cliff Cemeteries

So, why did the Bo people opt to bury their dead so high up off the ground?

Experts now believe that one of the main reasons behind this was that the Bo people believed that they were respecting their dead by buying them so high. The more respect paid – the less likely the spirit was to return to the Earth and haunt the living.

The higher up the cliff the coffin is placed – the more respect that dead person commands.

In ancient times people believed that powerful supernatural spirits used to roam the planet, and the higher up you were, the more chance you stood of meeting one. Basically they thought that the closer to heaven you were – the more contact with god(s) you had.

Was this one of the reasons behind burying the dead so high? Did they believe they were placing them closer to heaven?

Another theory suggests the Bo probably chose cliff precipices as graves because they had strong links to the afterlife and reincarnation. This meant that they believed the needed to preserve the dead bodies as long as possible, so that the spirit could move on to the afterlife.

This practice ensured the immortality of the spirit in the next life.

So, they opted to bury the bodies high up so that animals etc. could not get at the coffin, and damage the body.

The Cliff Cemeteries


How Did They Get Them So High?

Good question…which deserves a good answer…but unfortunately nobody has one!

Seriously – nobody really knows how these coffins were put in place, and it’s been the subject of many arguments between experts over the years.

There are three main types of placements for the coffins:

  • Some lay on wooden beams that jut out from vertical rock walls
  • Some are placed in caves or crevices on the cliffs
  • Some are positioned in rocky ledges along the wall

Some experts believe that a complex form of ancient scaffolding was used to get the coffins where they are, others believe an elaborate rope system got them there…others believe that huge earth ramps were built…but nobody really knows for sure.

What are your views on this?

How do you think the Bo people got these coffins into these difficult cliff areas?

Please leave your opinions in the comment section below.

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