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Curious tradtion – Anshun cave with a thousand coffins in Guizhou, China

Hundreds of thousands of wooden coffins are left to slowly rot away in dank Chinese caves in the belief it will let the souls of the departed ascend into heaven.

潮湿的洞穴里,数不清的棺木堆积在一起正慢慢地腐烂,人们相信这种方式能让灵魂脱离苦海升入极乐世界。

The curious tradition, which sees the caskets stacked in caves on the steep cliffs of Anshun, in southwest China's Guizhou Province, is believed to have been practised since ancient times. 

贵州西南部安顺市峭壁上的洞穴里,人们可以看到堆积如山的棺木,这是当地由来已久的古怪习俗。

In one of cave alone there are more than 500 coffins stacked, layer upon layer in various stages of decay. It's been the ‘coffin cave’ for residents surnamed Liu from the neighbouring five villages since ancient times.

有一个洞穴层层堆着500个腐烂程度不同的棺材。此洞穴是自古以来当地5个村子刘姓村民的“棺材洞”。

Final journeys.jpg

Final journeys: Some of the hundreds of thousands of wooden coffins which are left to rot away in Chinese caves in the belief it will let the souls of the departed enter heaven

旅行的终点:数不清的棺木,洞穴是他们最后一站。

In one of cave alone there.jpg

In one of cave alone there are more than 500 coffins stacked, layer upon layer, of residents surnamed Liu from the neighbouring five villages

有一个洞穴里层层堆着500个腐烂程度不同的棺材。此洞穴是自古以来当地5个村子刘姓村民的“棺材洞”。

According to local folk stories, the people who live in the area moved from the plains in central China to mountainous Guizhou Province many centuries ago to avoid war.

根据当地民间传说,此地的居民都是几个世纪前为躲战乱从中原腹地而迁徙到贵州山区。

One legend maintains that because they hoped to one day move back to their homeland they didn’t bury their dead but instead stacked their coffins in the caves. 

相传他们希望有一天能回到祖先的家园,因此他们不把死者埋葬入土而是把棺木堆积在洞穴里。

According to other stories the tradition started because the area is often subject to floods and the coffins were stored in caves to prevent them from being affected. 

另外的有关习俗起源的说法是本地区经常发水灾,因此把棺木放置到洞穴里就避免水淹之苦。

Being in caves also means that the coffins are closer to the sky and therefore closer to heaven.

放置在洞穴里也意味着棺木离天空更近,也离天堂更近。

Custom.jpg

Custom: The coffins are left in the caves to rot, which, according to belief, allows the souls to go to heaven.

习俗:洞穴中棺木被堆积着慢慢腐烂,这样就能让灵魂进入极乐世界。

Legend.jpg

Legend: According to local folk stories, the people who live in the area moved from the plains in central China to mountainous Guizhou Province to avoid war.

传说:据当地民间的说法,此地的居民早年为躲避战乱从中原腹地迁徙至贵州山区。

According to local belief.jpg

According to local belief, by letting the coffins rot away over many years the departed souls will be allowed to ascend into the heavens.

当地人相信,让棺木历经很多年慢慢腐烂有助于灵魂脱离苦海升入极乐世界。

The tradition.jpg

The tradition is also believed to have started because the area is often subject to floods and the coffins were stored in caves to prevent them from being affected.

这一传统被认为起源于当地易发水灾的原因,洞穴可以保护棺木免受水淹。

Some of the thousands.jpg

Some of the thousands of wooden coffins slowly rotting away in the cave in China's Guizhou Province.

数不清的棺木堆积在一起,慢慢地腐烂。

Some locals believe.jpg

Some locals believe that by being in caves, the coffins are closer to the sky and therefore closer to heaven.

当地人相信放置在洞穴里,棺木更接近天空,离天堂极乐世界也更近。

The coffins.jpg

The coffins are stored in caves in the steep cliffs in Anshun, southwest China's Guizhou Province.

西南峭壁上洞穴里的棺木。

2016-06-23

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