Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Coffin Cave in Pingba

The coffin hole in Pingba County, Guizhou Province, China, dates back over 1200 years. More commonly called 'coffin cave', the site has been in continuous use for over 1000 years by a single clan of the Miao Minority People. The huge natural cave,  is an irregular round shape about 30 meters in depth and covering an area of about 2,000 square meters, When the cave becomes full of ancestors, every 300 years or so, the Miao sets fire to the remains, to make more room. 

On their deathbeds the Miao would be asked whether they wished to go to the 'country'(be buried in the ground), or go to the 'city'(be buried in a cave). When a Miao died, he would be placed in a coffin and carried to a large cave where he was placed in order of his seniority in his family or clan. A coffin is used, though not buried in the ground. Instead, a cave in a cliff is chosen as a burial vault; herein, is erected a framework of wood raised some feet from the ground. In front of the cave is a sign erected by the Provincial Bureau of Cultural Preservation designating it officially culturally significant.

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