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Funeral strippers and cigarette in lips: Unusual death customs observed around the world

Different cultures have different ways to mark the death of someone they love.

There are many ways of saying goodbye.

We observe the passing of someone in the UK through a funeral or burial. These are solemn occasions that commemorate a person’s death.

These rituals allow grieving family members to say goodbye, and possibly even grow through the loss.

But not all cultures mark death in this manner. Some cultures feature customs that many Brits may find “bizarre”.

Even though these customs may seem odd, they can be very significant in certain locations. The Mirror examined some of the most unique death customs, including those that involve water and sky burials.

Ashes into death beads – South Korea



The death beads are a relatively new type of cremation art in South Korea (stock image)
The death beads are a relatively new type of cremation art in South Korea (stock image)

“Death beads” aren’t exactly a fashion trend, they are a way of honouring the dead in South Korea.

Death beads have gained popularity after a 2000 law required that anyone who wishes to bury their dead after 2000 must remove the grave at least 60 years after burial.

Because South Korea is running out of burial spaces, this is why death beads are so popular.

Cultural changes have resulted in a rise in the rate of cremation. Beads are considered to be more wholesome and less creepy.

Sky burial – Tibet

This Tibetan funeral practice involves placing the deceased on a mountaintop to decompose whilst being exposed ‘to the elements’ or eaten by scavenging animals.

It’s a specific type of excarnation practiced in the Chinese provinces and autonomous regions of Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia and Mongolia.

Villagers will transport the body by horse or automobile to the sky burial location, where the master of the ceremony will perform rituals over the body.

After birds have circled over the site, the master will chop the body into small pieces for feasting, and if vultures consume the entire body, it’s considered a good sign.

Water burial – Scandinavia

Known from old Norse poetry and Icelandic sagas, a ship burial involves the deceased being laid in a boat and given grave offerings.

The remains are then placed on top of piles of soil and stone to make a tumulis (burial place).

The idea of a ‘Viking funeral’ is wanted by many today, but as seen in a Q&A from Scattering Ashes, it definitely won’t be done the traditional Nordic way.

You can even see an undisturbed ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, with a vast array of Anglo-Saxon artefacts.

A cigarette in the lips – Philippines

The Tinguians in the Philippines dress up the deceased in their best outfit and sit the body in the chair.

The body will remain there for several more weeks with a lit cigar between their lips.

Corpses are also buried sitting up and women have their hands tied to their feet to prevent ‘ghosts from roaming’.

Rock climbing – Sagada, Philippines



Hundreds of wooden coffins dangle from cliffs and caves
Hundreds of wooden coffins dangle from cliffs and caves

The Igorot tribe of the Mountain Province in Northern Philippines practicing the tradition of burying their dead in hanging coffins.

It is only a once in a few years tradition. The coffins hang from the sides of the cliffs and are only one metre wide. The corpse is placed in the foetus’ position.

The body is wrapped in a blanket again and tied with rattan. A small group of men then hammer into the coffin support.

After that, the group climbs up the cliffside and places the corpse in a wooden coffin.

Funeral strippers – China



Funeral strippers in China are said to attract more attendees
Funeral strippers in China are said to attract more attendees

Funeral strippers are actually a thing in China.

As reported by The BBC, strippers are used to boost funeral attendance as large crowds are seen as a mark of honour for the deceased.

Understandably it’s not all to everyone’s taste, as seen in a report by The Global Times vowing to crack down on funeral strippers.

Catch up with the dead – Madagascar

Famadihana is the ‘day of the dead’ for Madagascar, it’s held every five to seven years.

It’s where families will dig up their ancestors by exhuming them and wrapping them in fresh shrouds.

They dance, perfume, and share stories with the corpses.

Funeral strippers and cigarette in lips: Unusual death customs observed around the world
Anurag Reddy
I'm a 29-year-old travel enthusiast, travel and nature photographer, Computer Science graduate, and Mass Communication student. I have seen different shades of life through traveling and lived different lives through reading. With every word I write, I travel within, and I understand myself better. Writing helps me discover myself, and that paved roads for me to choose writing as a profession.
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