Different cultures have different ways to mark the death of someone they love.
There isn’t just one way to say goodbye.
Here in the UK, we observe the passing of a person through either a funeral or a burial. In both cases, these are usually solemn events that celebrate a person’s life.
These customs gives the grieving loved ones a chance to say goodbye and perhaps even grow through their loss.
However, not every culture marks death this way. Some cultures feature customs that many Brits may find “bizarre”.
Although these traditions seem unusual, that carry a lot of significance in certain places. The Mirror has looked at some of the most unusual death customs around the world, including sky and water burials.
Ashes into death beads – South Korea
“Death beads” aren’t exactly a fashion trend, they are a way of honouring the dead in South Korea.
The idea of death beads has gained popularity since a 2000 law that required anyone burying their dead after the year 2000 to remove the grave 60 years after burial.
This is due to the fact that South Korea is simply running out of burial space.
Cultural changes have seen an increase in the cremation rate, and the beads are seen as more wholesome than 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 take the body to the sky burial site by horse or car, and the master of the sky burial ceremony will then perform rituals all 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.
After this, piles of stone and soil would be laid on top of the remains to create a tumulis (burial ground.)
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 then remain there for several weeks, often with a lit cigarette placed between the 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
The Igorot tribe of the Mountain Province in Northern Philippines practicing the tradition of burying their dead in hanging coffins.
Although it only takes place every few years or so now, the coffins are either tied or nailed to the sides of cliffs, and measure only about one metre in length, as the corpse is buried in the foetal position.
Before being taken for burial, it is then wrapped again in a blanket and tied with rattan leaves while a small group of men chip holes into the side of the cliff to hammer in the support for the coffin.
Then, the group climb up the side of the cliff and place the corpse inside a hollowed out lumber coffin.
Funeral strippers – China
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 perfume the bodies, dance with them, and even share stories with the corpses for a general catch up.