Sky burial

Sky burial is a funeral practice in Tibet

Tibetan Sky burial

Tibetan Sky burial

Sky burial is a funeral practice in Tibet, where a human corpse is incised in certain locations and placed on a mountaintop exposing to the elements and scavenging animals. Local Tibetan people call this practice as “jhator”, in Tibetan it means “giving alms to the birds”. It is a specific practice of ex-carnation, which means leaving the body for animals to scavenge.

Tibetan Sky burial Knowledge

Buddhism teaches the transmigration of spirits, so many Tibetan people believe that there is no need to preserve the body which is an empty vessel after people’s death. The function of sky burial is to dispose the remained body as a generous way to feed the animals. At first, only high lamas and dignitaries can receive stupa burial and cremation as a way to honor them. Common people usually receive sky burials for disposing their corpses. However, children less than 18 years old, pregnant women and those who died of infectious disease or accident are not suitable. Tibetans are encouraged to witness this ritual and it will be held near monasteries. The corpse will be left untouched for three days after death with monks’ chanting around. Before the day of sky burial, the corpse will be cleaned and wrapped in white cloth. The corpse will be situated in a fetal position, like the person had been born. The ritual usually begins before dawn. Lamas lead a procession to the channel ground with chanting to guide the soul. After the chanting, the body is unwrapped and the first cut is made on the back. The monks will use Hatchets and cleavers to cut the corpse up quickly in a definite and precise way. Flesh is cut into chunks of meat and the internal organs are cut into pieces. Bones are smashed into splinter and mixed with tsampa, roasted barley flour. Juniper incense is burned to summon the vultures. During the process of breaking up the corpse, vultures are flying overhead waiting for their feast. After the completion of dissection, they begin to eat, first the bone mixture, then the organ, the last is the flesh. The whole body should be eaten for ensuring the ascent of the soul.

The mystical burial tradition has aroused many people’s curiosity but visits by the merely curious are strongly objected by Tibetans. Only the funeral party can show at the ritual. Moreover, You can not take photo of this activity because the local authority does not allow this during the process because taking photos will negatively affect the ascent of the soul.