2019-04-29 09:42:04 source: Zhejiang News; Translation: In Zhejiang
Tiantai Mountain has become widely known since the ancient times. Yet few people have heard about the mysterious hanging coffin funeral in Tiantai Mountain.
The hanging coffin funeral is located at the secluded place of the poet Han Shan, the Hanshan Mountain Scenic Area of Jietou Town, Tiantai County, Zhejiang Province, which is also called Hanyan Mountain Scenic Area.
What is the hanging coffin funeral?
As the name indicates, a wooden coffin is suspended and inserted into the timber piles fixed on the cliffs, or put into the cliff caves or crevices, or hung outside the cliffs. The cliffs are usually steep and high, facing deep creeks below and cannot be climbed. It is a strange funeral custom observed by some ethnic minority groups in the south of China in the ancient time. Nowadays the origin of the hanging coffin funeral cannot be identified. We only know that this funeral custom has been passed on for hundreds of years to thousands of years.
Why does hanging coffin funeral exist in Taizhou?
Taizhou used to be the hometown of Baiyue people. Living near mountains and waters, Baiyue people were good swimmers and adept at using boats. They were accustomed to the life on water. The custom of hanging coffin funeral was generally spread along the waterway.
The largest tributary of Jiaojiang River was flowing at the foot of Hanyan Mountain. Before the Ming Dynasty, the waterway here was wide, with a busy port nearby.
When you stand here and look up at the cliffs, you may find traces of something placed in the high cliff caves. In history, coffins were placed in the caves of different heights in this area, which dated back to the remote ancient time until the 1970s.
Why is the hanging coffin funeral of Hanshan rarely known?
Death is a taboo topic among people. Under the context of transforming social traditions, this funeral custom was considered as a bad tradition and was listed among the old customs opposed by the government, thus it was rarely mentioned. And local cultural workers believed that the phenomenon and custom was meaningless, so they have not made any record of it.
Generally speaking, in the regions where hanging coffin funeral was popular, the economy was lagged behind. The exposed hanging coffins are not decent. Therefore, unless you went to see them in person, local people avoid the topic.
For various reasons, the hanging coffin funeral has been forgotten.
(Executive Editor: Yongliu He)