Hanging coffins are coffins which have been placed on cliffs. They can be found in various locations, including China, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In China, they are known in Mandarin as xuanguan (simplified Chinese: 悬棺; traditional Chinese: 懸棺; pinyin: xuán guān) which also means "hanging coffin".
Hanging coffins are an ancient funeral custom of some ethnic groups, especially the Bo people of southern China. Coffins of various shapes were mostly carved from one whole piece of wood. Hanging coffins either lie on beams projecting outward from vertical faces such as mountains, are placed in caves in the face of cliffs, or sit on natural rock projections on mountain faces.
It was said that the hanging coffins could prevent bodies from being taken by beasts and also bless the soul eternally. Spiritually, the Bo people viewed the mountain cliffs as a stairway to heaven and believed that by placing the coffins up high the deceased would be closer to heaven. A practical reason for placing the coffins on cliffs includes isolation, so that they are hard for animals to reach and less vulnerable to destruction. Locations of hanging coffins include:
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