Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The ancient funeral custom of Igorot in Sagada

I’m sure most of you already heard about the “hanging coffins” in Sagada, Mountain Province. It's an old funeral custom of the people of Sagada wherein coffins with bodies of qualified individuals were placed on elevated cliffs. 

Sagada, Philippines is really famous for its "hanging coffins." This traditional way of burying people is part of the Igorot indigenous culture and burial tradition.  Not everyone is qualified to be buried this way.

The ritual involves putting the bodies into the tight spaces of the coffins. They brought these coffins to the caves in the face of elevated cliffs, where they joined the coffins of other ancestors. Most coffins are carved from one whole piece of wood, which made from Pine tree logs. 

Hanging coffins can be also seen in some parts of the world like in China and Indonesia. Here in the Philippines, it is called "hanging coffins" while in China it is called Xuanguan.  

In China, you can find their hanging coffins in Fujian (Wyi Mountains), Hubei, Jiangxi, Sichuan (Gongxian, Quatng Gorge ) and Yunnan. In Indonesia, hanging coffins and funeral effigies of the Sa'dan Toraja people can be found in  Londa Nanggala cave of Sulawesi.

It’s really amazing how these coffins are being placed in the mountains, cliffs of cave and other natural rock formations. I'm not really sure how this unique burial ritual started. All I know it's started more than thousand years ago.

During my visit in Sagada's hanging coffins, I saw a lot of vandalism. This is really inappropriate. It's a pollution to my eyes. Hope everyone respect the place. STOP VANDALISM!

According to my guide, the Igorot ancestors in Sagada believed that the higher your body is laid – the close they are to heaven. That's why I saw some of coffins are on the highest parts of the cave. Another reason they hang the coffins was to protect the bodies from natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. That's really make sense.

Just a reminder! Wear a comfortable footwear like rubber shoes/ hiking shoes or sandals. Your footwear will be challenged by rough roads, rock formations and rivers. So wearing a pair of slippers is not advisable. Don't also forget to wear leggings or pants to protect your legs from bushes along the road.

So guys! Hanging coffins is a must-see tourist destination in Sagada, Mountain Province. Don't forget to put it on your itineraries. Tropa! See you on my next adventure :-)

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