Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bizarre traditions-Tibetan Sky Burial

Sky burial or ritual dissection was once a common practice in Tibet. A human corpse is cut into small pieces and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements and animals – especially to birds of prey. In one account, the leading mok cut off the limbs and hacked the body to pieces, handing each part to his assistants, who used rocks to pound the flesh and bones together to a pulp, which they mixed with tsampa (barley flour with tea and yak butter or milk) before the vultures were summoned to eat.

In several accounts, the flesh was stripped from the bones and given to vultures without further preparation; the bones then were broken up with sledgehammers, and usually mixed with tsampa before being given to the vultures. In another account, vultures were given the whole body. When only the bones remained, they were broken up with mallets, ground with tsampa, and given to crows and hawks that had waited until the vultures had departed.

The Communist government of China outlawed it in the 1960s so it was nearly a lost tradition, but they legalised it again in the 1980s.


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