How Different Cultures Deal With Their Dead

In Soul Of The Beast and Awakening Of The Beast, the bodies of the dead are cremated.  Cremation is the burning of a dead body until all that is left are ashes. This method of disposing of the dead is  used in many parts of the world, including the United States. Other common ways  in the US for dealing with the dead are burial in the ground and placing the body inside a stone structure (mausoleum, tomb, pyramid, temple). SOBnewgrang

Other practices for dealing with the dead that are less familiar or unknown in the United States and  Western cultures include:

Leaving the dead body on the ground for animals to eat.

Building a mound of earth or a pile of stones over the body.

SOB mummyMummification (preservation of the body to stop rotting) .

Sending the body out to sea on a burning ship (vikings).

Placement of the body inside a sealed cave to rot. After decomposition of the body is complete, all that remains are the bones. The bones are removed from the cave and stored separately or placed with other bones in an “ossuary”.  Wikipedia definition of ossuary is: a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains.

Below are excerpts about additional  ways cultures deal with their dead. This information comes from the online website matadornetwork.

Air Sacrifice – Mongolia

[Mongolians take the body away from the village and lay it on the open ground. A stone outline is placed around it. The village dogs that have been penned up and not fed for days are released to consume the remains.  Whatever is left goes to the local predators.]

Sky Burial – Tibet

The dead are dismembered (arms and legs removed). [The body is placed] outside and away from any occupied dwellings ….  The birds of prey[ eat the body]. To a Buddhist, the body is but an empty shell, worthless after the spirit has departed. …SOBsky burial third

Pit Burial – Pacific Northwest

Before [contact with Europeans,] people of the American northwest coast simply cast their dead into a large open pit behind the village [for the animals to eat. If the dead] was a chief, shaman (holy man), or warrior …(t)he body was crushed with clubs until it fit into a small wooden box …  It was then fitted [to the top of] a totem pole in front of the longhouse ….

Viking Burial – ScandinaviaSOB vikingfuneral

…burning a ship is quite expensive… Vikings (usually buried their dead) in large graves dug in the shape of a ship and lined with rocks.  The person’s belongings (including weapons)  and food were placed beside [him.]

Fire Burial – Bali

[On the] Isle of BaliThe body [Mayat] is bathed and laid out on a table where food offerings are laid beside it for the journey. …[the body is then buried with other dead until] there are a sufficient number of bodies to hold a cremation. The bodies are unearthed, cleaned, and stacked on an elaborate float [They are then] paraded through the village to the central square where [the bodies are] consumed by flames….

Spirit Offerings – Southeast Asia

Throughout most of Southeast Asia, [the dead are] buried in the fields where they lived and worked. It is common to see large stone monuments [marking the burial sites] in the middle of a pasture …The Vietnamese leave thick wads of counterfeit money under rocks on these monuments so the deceased can buy whatever they need on their way to the next life…

Predator Burial – Maasai Tribe

SOBmaasai-warrior1The Maasai of East Africa…[only bury their] chiefs. The] common people are simply left outdoors for predators to dispose of[. The Maasai believe dead bodies are harmful to the earth.]

Skull Burial – Kiribati

SOB skull2On the tiny island of Kiribati the deceased is laid out in their house for [3 to 12 days before burial)…  Several months after [the burial, the body is dug up] and the skull removed, oiled, polished, and offered tobacco and food…. the remainder of the body is [reburied and the] islanders keep the skull on a shelf in their home …

Cave Burial – Hawaii

In the Hawaiian Islands, a traditional burial takes place in a cave where the body is bent into a fetal position with hands and feet tied to keep it that way… Sometimes the internal organs are removed … The bones are considered sacred and believed to have divine power.

Ocean Burial

SOBsailing ship pics 1600X1200[The captain of any ship… has the authority to conduct an official burial service at sea. The traditional burial shroud is a burlap bag…The deceased is sewn inside and is weighted with rocks or other heavy debris to keep it from floating. [T]he flag of their nation covers the bag while a service is conducted on deck. The body is then slid from under the flag [into] Davy Jones locker.

In olden days, the British navy mandated that the final stitch in the bag had to go through the deceased person’s lip, just to make sure they really were dead…

The Final Frontier

Today…you can be launched into space aboard a private commercial satellite and a capsule containing your ashes will be placed in permanent orbit around the earth. …

Do you know of any other ways cultures deal with their death? Any comments you’d like to make about this blog? I’d like to hear from you! Post your comments below!



One thought on “How Different Cultures Deal With Their Dead

  1. Leila Cheesley Post author

    Leila Cheesley -Interesting to read how very different cultures treat their dead. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Amen.


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