The Filipino tribe that hangs its lifeless from cliffs

The Filipino tribe that hangs its lifeless from cliffs

(Picture credit score: Steve Paton)

Within the Philippines, the Igorot individuals apply an historical burial ritual the place the aged carve their very own coffins and the lifeless are hung off the facet of a cliff.

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

The distant village of Sagada is nestled within the Cordillera Central mountains of northern Luzon, the Philippines’ largest and most populated island. It’s a bumpy, winding 8.5-hour drive from Manila, however these keen to make the journey will encounter an historical customized that’s as haunting as it’s exceptional.

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

In a ritual believed thus far again 2,000 years, the Igorot individuals bury their lifeless in hand-carved coffins which might be tied or nailed to the facet of a cliff and suspended excessive above the bottom under. This gravity-defying graveyard is believed to deliver the departed nearer to their ancestral spirits.

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Historically, the aged have hollowed their very own coffins from native timber and painted their names on the facet. Earlier than a corpse is laid within the coffin, it’s positioned in a wood ‘loss of life chair’, tied with leaves and vines and coated with a blanket. The physique is then smoked to delay it from rotting as kin pay their respects over a number of days.

Coffins hang from a cliff in Sagada, the Philippines

Coffins hold from a cliff in Sagada, the Philippines

Based on Igorot information Siegrid Bangyay, up to now, members of the family shifting the corpse from the loss of life chair to the casket must break the lifeless individual’s bones to stuff it into the 1m-long coffins within the foetal place. Immediately, the hanging coffins are usually bigger and are roughly 2m in size.

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

It’s like returning again to the place you got here from, within the foetal place within the womb,” Bangyay stated.

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Because the corpse is wrapped in rattan leaves earlier than being positioned within the coffin, males drive metallic pegs into the cliff face to droop the coffin in its last resting place. Earlier than the casket is hauled up the bluff, mourners let fluids from the decomposing cadaver drip onto their our bodies, believing that it’s going to deliver them luck.

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Whereas the Igorots’ historical funeral ceremony is exclusive within the Philippines, hanging coffins off crags has traditionally been practised in pockets of China and Indonesia. Elsewhere, this cliff-face customized ceased way back, however in Sagada, the custom lives on. Based on Bangyay, the final cliff burial happened in 2010.

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

In recent times, a trickle of travellers has began making the pilgrimage to Sagada to go to the hanging coffins. Sarcastically, this vertical cemetery has become one thing of a profitable livelihood for the Igorot individuals, offering a much-needed financial enhance to the entire village.

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Philippines, hanging coffins, Igorot

Based on Bangyay, there are far fewer hanging-coffin burials in Sagada than in earlier generations. But she strongly believes the custom will proceed. In truth, she herself hopes to someday enter the afterlife this manner, reworking, as she says, from ‘a vacationer information to a vacationer attraction’.

View in Sagada, the Philippines

View in Sagada, the Philippines

Within the collection, Philippines: Island Treasures, BBC World Information broadcaster Rico Hizon joins nature fanatic Mike Dilger on a journey to find the colourful tradition and interesting wildlife of the Philippines. Philippines: Island Treasures airs Fridays at 21:30 native time on BBC World Information. Study extra in regards to the collection and upcoming episodes right here.

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