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Tibetan Burial

Due to the different natural environment, social forms and religious beliefs of different ethnic groups in China, the customs and cultures of different regions are also quite different. Whether it is food customs, weddings or funerals, there are local etiquette and ways. 

In Tibetan culture, people's death rituals are highly valued, so there are rich funeral customs. Because of the vast territory of Tibet, there are various burial methods after death. After the death of Tibetans, different burial methods are adopted according to their different economic and social status. There are five common types of burial: sky burial, water burial, cremation, earth burial and pagoda burial. Ordinary people use sky burial.

Tibetan Sky Burial 

sky burial

Tibetan sky burial or celestial burial’s platform is generally located on the mountains, or the mountainside, where is not easy to climb to would climb. For most of people, it is lucky to be there once in their life (to go after they died). Sky burial has noble status in the Tibetan heart. Ordinary people’s burial cannot be sky burial. If in a family has the sky burial for one of the elder, it will be the great honor of this family.

Therefore, in Tibet, sky burial master has had unparalleled supremacy. In general, a county has a celestial burial platform and a master. The sky burial masters are professional medical personnel has a wealth of anatomical knowledge, and perhaps the richest local people. Because at the burial, the deceased are wearing a variety of jewelry and jewelry, these all belong to the master after the burial. The master work hard every day for the people of the county, there are innumerable gold and silver jewelry in his home. In addition, after the burial, the deceased's family has other things to give the master for thanking.

The Burial is feed the eagles with the body of the deceased. After eating, the eagles fly into the sky, and Tibetans believe that the deceased smoothly go to the heaven.

Under the influence of Buddhist thought, Tibetan people think that the soul is immortalizing, the body is only an outer form. Instead of letting the body die naturally, it's better to give it to another life to lead to the liberation of the soul. This way of funeral fully embodies the great dedication of Tibetan people.

Pagoda Burial

pagoda burial

In Tibet, the pagoda is the noblest funeral buried. Only the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama, Living Buddha and very few people can get this honor.

There are 3 types of pagoda burial: 

1. Bury the cremated ashes within the pagoda, which is most common use of this method.
2. Bury the casket or remains as part of the skull, humerus, femur, etc. in the pagoda.
3. Put the the whole body after drug treatment and the deceased supplies In the "Tower Bottle".

Tibetan Water Burial/ River Burial

water burial

At the Yarlung Zangbo River and other river areas, there is water burial custom. Especially, in summer, when the water rising in rivers. People think water burial is as good as sky burial. The dead children, or people died because of other maladies, their bodies will be thrown into the river to feed the fish, which is called water burial. Water Burials are mainly in the following forms. One is to throw the whole body into the river. Usually two masters handle the funeral. The second is to dismember the body and throw it into the river.



In the area of Ü-Tsang, cremation was usually carried out among senior monks and nobles. The general procedure is: after death, the dead body is tied up in a sitting position and fixed on a wooden frame then carried to the crematorium. Lay the body on a pile of cross-shaped firewood, then support it with firewood. The invited abhorrer sits facing the body and prayed that the spirit of the dead man would be accepted by the god of heaven, and sprinkles oil on the wood pile to light the fire. Finally, pick up the bone ashes, take them to the top of a mountain, sow them downwind, or scatter them in rivers, and let the water carry them away.



In Tibet, there is also inhumation. Inhumation is an old Tibet burial type. According to the discovery at lots of the Neolithic tombs, inhumation was popular during the ancient times. Until Tubo Dynasty, inhumation is still dominant burial custom. At Tibetan Prime, inhumation system has developed to the vertex, becoming the noblest Tibetan burial custom, and Tubo royal family’s tall majestic tombs are still in Qiongjie County in Shannan. With the decline of the Tubo Dynasty, in 877, riotous slavers destroyed the royal tombs. Later the inhumation system dominance was substituted by sky burial along with the spread of Buddhism.