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131 hanging coffins found in Hubei

(People's Daily Online)    13:34, December 15, 2015
131 hanging coffins found in Hubei
The hanging coffin tomb. (Photo/cnhubei.com)

A total of 131 hanging coffins were recently discovered in Moping township of Zigui county, central China's Hubei province. The coffins were found on a cliff that was 50 meters wide and 100 meters high.

It is one of the biggest hanging coffin tomb sites to be found so far in Chinese mainland. The wooden coffins were placed in man-made caves or natural rock tunnels on the cliff. According to archaeologists, these hanging coffin tombs can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty of 1,200 years ago, and the tomb owners were Bo people, an ancient aboriginal tribe in southwest China. 

Zhao Chenggang, deputy head of Moping township, told reporters that the local government has listed the hanging coffin tombs as a cultural site under special protection. The tombs are now well protected and the surrounding area will be cleaned up. 

Hanging coffins are an ancient funeral custom of some southern ethnic groups, especially the Bo people. Coffins of various shapes were mostly carved from one whole piece of wood. Hanging coffins often lie on beams projected outward from vertical cliff faces, are placed in cave openings, or sit on natural rock projections on mountain faces.

It was said that hanging coffins could prevent bodies from being taken by beasts and also bless the soul eternally.

The hanging coffin tomb is still a mystery. Experts haven't figured out how ancient people managed to transport the coffin, body and funeral objects—together weighing hundreds kilograms—to the cliff caves. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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