» » Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony

    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    [Sky burial or ritual dissection was once a common funerary practice in Tibet wherein a human corpse is cut in specific locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements or the mahabhuta and animals – especially to birds of prey. The location of the sky burial preparation and place of execution are understood in the Vajrayana traditions as charnel grounds. In Tibet the practice is known as jhator (Tibetan: བྱ་གཏོར་; Wylie: bya gtor), which literally means, "giving alms to the birds."

    The majority of Tibetans adhere to Buddhism, which teaches rebirth. There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it, or nature may let it decompose. So the function of the sky burial is simply the disposal of the remains. In much of Tibet the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and with fuel and timber scarce, a sky burial is often more practical than cremation.

    The Tibetan sky-burial practices appear to have evolved out of practical considerations but can also be related to ancient places of sky burial such as Göbekli Tepe (11,500 years bp) and Stonehenge (4,500 years bp). Most of Tibet is above the tree line, and the scarcity of timber makes cremation economically unfeasible. Additionally, subsurface interment is difficult since the active layer is not more than a few centimeters deep, with solid rock or permafrost beneath them.

    The customs are first recorded in an indigenous 12th century Buddhist treatise known colloquially as the Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol). Tibetan tantricism appears to have influenced the procedure. Dissection occurs according to instructions given by a lama or tantric adept.

    Prior to the procedure, monks may chant mantra around the body and burn juniper incense – although ceremonial activities often take place on the preceding day. The work of disassembling of the body may be done by a monk, or, more commonly, by rogyapas ([body-breakers]). All the eyewitness accounts remarked on the fact that the rogyapas did not perform their task with gravity or ceremony, but rather talked and laughed as during any other type of physical labor. According to Buddhist teaching, this makes it easier for the soul of the deceased to move on from the uncertain plane between life and death onto the next life]. – Wikipedia


    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    Vultures rest in the [Prayer Flags City] built for celestial burial ceremonies, where the burial masters pray for the dead, at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A relative of the dead prays during a celestial burial ceremony at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A burial master grinds a knife before a celestial burial ceremony at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. Celestial burial is a traditional funeral of Tibetan people, which began in the 7th century. When the ceremony is held, aromatic plants are burnt for smoke to guide the soul to reach the celestial burial ground. The body of the dead, placed in a sitting stance, is sliced by a celestial burial master, then offered to vultures, which are called [holy eagles]. Tibetans believe the vulture can help the dead gain merits and virtues. A burial master can earn about 100 yuan (approximately USD 13.5) for handling every burial. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A [Prayer Flags City] built for celestial burial ceremonies, where the burial masters pray for the dead, is seen at the Chanlang Temple on November 1, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    Vultures rest in the [Prayer Flags City] built for celestial burial ceremonies, where the burial masters pray for the dead, at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A burial master prays during a celestial burial ceremony at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A burial master smashes bones of a body to feed vultures during a celestial burial ceremony at the Chanlang Temple on November 1, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A burial master chops bones of a body to feed vultures during a celestial burial ceremony on April 19, 2006 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A lama burial master prays and drives away vultures after they finished eating the body of a dead person during a celestial burial ceremony on October 31, 2005 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A burial master washes his face after he finished performing a celestial burial ceremony on October 28, 2006 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A burial master walks out of his tent after he finished performing a celestial burial ceremony on October 28, 2006 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




    Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


    A burial master (R) has butter tea with his family at home after he finished performing a celestial burial ceremony on April 19, 2005 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)


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Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


[Sky burial or ritual dissection was once a common funerary practice in Tibet wherein a human corpse is cut in specific locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements or the mahabhuta and animals – especially to birds of prey. The location of the sky burial preparation and place of execution are understood in the Vajrayana traditions as charnel grounds. In Tibet the practice is known as jhator (Tibetan: བྱ་གཏོར་; Wylie: bya gtor), which literally means, "giving alms to the birds."

The majority of Tibetans adhere to Buddhism, which teaches rebirth. There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it, or nature may let it decompose. So the function of the sky burial is simply the disposal of the remains. In much of Tibet the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and with fuel and timber scarce, a sky burial is often more practical than cremation.

The Tibetan sky-burial practices appear to have evolved out of practical considerations but can also be related to ancient places of sky burial such as Göbekli Tepe (11,500 years bp) and Stonehenge (4,500 years bp). Most of Tibet is above the tree line, and the scarcity of timber makes cremation economically unfeasible. Additionally, subsurface interment is difficult since the active layer is not more than a few centimeters deep, with solid rock or permafrost beneath them.

The customs are first recorded in an indigenous 12th century Buddhist treatise known colloquially as the Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol). Tibetan tantricism appears to have influenced the procedure. Dissection occurs according to instructions given by a lama or tantric adept.

Prior to the procedure, monks may chant mantra around the body and burn juniper incense – although ceremonial activities often take place on the preceding day. The work of disassembling of the body may be done by a monk, or, more commonly, by rogyapas ([body-breakers]). All the eyewitness accounts remarked on the fact that the rogyapas did not perform their task with gravity or ceremony, but rather talked and laughed as during any other type of physical labor. According to Buddhist teaching, this makes it easier for the soul of the deceased to move on from the uncertain plane between life and death onto the next life]. – Wikipedia


Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


Vultures rest in the [Prayer Flags City] built for celestial burial ceremonies, where the burial masters pray for the dead, at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A relative of the dead prays during a celestial burial ceremony at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A burial master grinds a knife before a celestial burial ceremony at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. Celestial burial is a traditional funeral of Tibetan people, which began in the 7th century. When the ceremony is held, aromatic plants are burnt for smoke to guide the soul to reach the celestial burial ground. The body of the dead, placed in a sitting stance, is sliced by a celestial burial master, then offered to vultures, which are called [holy eagles]. Tibetans believe the vulture can help the dead gain merits and virtues. A burial master can earn about 100 yuan (approximately USD 13.5) for handling every burial. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A [Prayer Flags City] built for celestial burial ceremonies, where the burial masters pray for the dead, is seen at the Chanlang Temple on November 1, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


Vultures rest in the [Prayer Flags City] built for celestial burial ceremonies, where the burial masters pray for the dead, at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A burial master prays during a celestial burial ceremony at the Chalang Temple on November 5, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A burial master smashes bones of a body to feed vultures during a celestial burial ceremony at the Chanlang Temple on November 1, 2007 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A burial master chops bones of a body to feed vultures during a celestial burial ceremony on April 19, 2006 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A lama burial master prays and drives away vultures after they finished eating the body of a dead person during a celestial burial ceremony on October 31, 2005 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A burial master washes his face after he finished performing a celestial burial ceremony on October 28, 2006 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A burial master walks out of his tent after he finished performing a celestial burial ceremony on October 28, 2006 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)




Tibetans Perform Celestial Burial Ceremony


A burial master (R) has butter tea with his family at home after he finished performing a celestial burial ceremony on April 19, 2005 in Dari County of Guoluo Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)


Add Comments
Bold Italic Underline Strike | Align left Center Align right | Insert smilies Select color | Add Hidden Text Insert Quote Convert selected text from selection to Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet Insert spoiler

It is forbidden to use not normative lexicon, insult other users of the site, active links to other sites, advertising in the comments..