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Suspending Coffins

Hanging Coffins

Suspending Coffins - Secret

On the cliffs of world famous Three Gorges and Lesser Three Gorges, there are many suspending coffins, including single coffin, grouped coffins. Some are like boat and some are like bellow. In the past, legend says that there are treasures in the suspending coffins. Are there any treasure in the suspending coffins and how are the coffins put on the cliff? These 2 questions have become a secret lasting for over one thousand years. Nowadays, the secret has been revealed.

Suspending Coffins - Discovery

In 1979, professor Lin Xiang of Sichuan University got one suspending coffin at Jin Zhuba. This wooden coffin comes from the State of Ba about 2,000 years ago. It is still not rotten. The suspending coffin is made of Nanmu which is waterproof. There are two skeletons in the suspending coffin, a boy and a girl. The girl was interred with the dead. And there are some sacrificial articles, including bronze bracelet and bronze hook. In other suspending coffins, the sacrificial articles differ a lot. Some are stone axe and hoe, some are jade, and some are fish. You can easily tell the job of the dead from their sacrificial articles. Taking the form of a ship, most coffins were carved out of one whole piece of wood.

Suspending Coffins - Burial Custom

According to local people, the location of the suspending coffins varied with the change of the social position of the deceased. The higher the coffins were, meant the more honorable the deceased were. Most of the suspending coffins contained respectable seniors or brave soldiers. It was said that hanging the coffins in this manner prevented bodies from being taken by beasts and the souls of the deceased would be blessed for eternity as well.

Suspending Coffins - Placing Method

There are three methods to put the coffin on the cliff. First one is that coffins are lowered down with ropes from the top of the mountain. Second one is that the coffins had been put in place using wooden stakes inserted into the cliff face to be used as artificial climbing aids. The third one is that using scaling ladders to move the coffin to the place where it stays for thousand years.

After the water level of the river is raised due to the Three Gorges Dam Project, visitors will be able to see the suspending coffins more clearly as the waterlevel rises.