131 hanging coffins found in China

Beijing, Dec 15 (IANS) A total of 131 hanging coffins were discovered in China’s Hubei province, a media report said on Tuesday.

The coffins were found on a cliff that was 50 metres wide and 100 metres high in Moping township of Zigui county, the People’s Daily reported.

It is one of the biggest hanging coffin tomb sites to be found so far in China. The wooden coffins were placed in man-made caves or natural rock tunnels on the cliff.

According to archaeologists, these hanging coffin tombs can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty of 1,200 years ago, and the tomb owners were Bo people, an ancient aboriginal tribe in southwest China.

Zhao Chenggang, deputy head of Moping township, said the local government has listed the hanging coffin tombs as a cultural site under special protection. The tombs are now well protected and the surrounding area will be cleaned up.

Hanging coffins are an ancient funeral custom of some southern ethnic groups. Coffins of various shapes were mostly carved from one whole piece of wood. Hanging coffins often lie on beams projected outward from vertical cliff faces, are placed in cave openings, or sit on natural rock projections on mountain faces.

However, the hanging coffin tomb is still a mystery. Experts have not figured out how ancient people managed to transport the coffin, body and funeral objects to the cliff caves.

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