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Hanging coffins of Mt. Longhu

 2013-11-11    Sherry    Sights    Nanchang    2030  

Mt. Longhu is located in Jiangxi Province. It is both world natural and cultural heritage. Mt. Longhu is also famed as the "No.1 Mountain in Taoism" as it is one of the birthplaces of Taoism. It is particularly important to the Zhengyi Dao as the Mansion of the Taoist Master is built here. Apart from the natural and cultural sceneries, hanging coffins on the steep cliff faces of Mt. Longhu very much fascinate people.

It is now revealed that Most of the coffins are of the Guyue people, who lived 2,500 years ago during the Warring State Period. There are hundreds of hanging coffins on the cliff faces of Fairy-Water Rocks in Mt. Longhu area. The coffins are placed on various shaped caves with the highest reaching 300 meters. As the caves are too high to enter, for centuries no one knew they were there. These coffins are different in shape and size. There are "ship-shaped" coffins, which can hold as many as ten bodies, and "roof" coffins, which are in the shape of a house roof. There are also "dugout-canoe" coffins, which are made from a single round log. The rectangular coffin commonly seen today can also be found among those hanging coffins.

When seeing the hanging coffins, tourists can't help asking: Why did the ancient people bury the dead in hanging coffins? How did they do it?
According to the study, Guyue people believed "Coffins put high are regarded lucky. The higher they are the more fortunate for the dead". Also, after experiencing years of wars and natural disasters, they dreamed of going somewhere peaceful and quiet after their death. That is why they chose to rest their bodies on the cliffs with the mountains and rivers around, all peaceful, beautiful and quiet. They also held a high respect for high mountains, and believed the higher the hanging coffin was placed; the better they could be protected.

How did people hang the coffins once caused passionate discussion among experts. Some believe the coffins were lowered down with ropes from the top of the mountain. Some think the coffins were put in place with wooden stakes inserted into the cliff surface as artificial climbing aids. Others feel that earth ramps were the answer.

However since the hanging coffins are so dangerously located, it remains unsolved. Over the years, it has taken on a mystic air. Some people even say the coffins were hung up with the help from the immortals in the heaven. Local government once offered a 300,000-Yuan reward for solving the mystery, but so far no one has won the prize. Hanging coffins are announced as "world culture miracle".

Nowadays if you go to Mt. Wuyi, there is a performance called Imitation of lifting coffins(模拟升棺). Although it is acted according to people’s imagination, the performance is still full of thrill and hardships. It is well worth seeing it.

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