Hanging Coffins -Sagada Series 4

Sagada Coffins

Sagada Coffins

If there is one thing, Sagada is most famous for, this would be it – the Ifugao’s Hanging Coffins in Mt. Province. These coffins were ‘hanged’ as part of some minority groups’ ancient cultural customs of burying their dead.

Sagada Mountain Cliffs

Sagada Mountain Cliffs

Before I went to Sagada, I thought that the coffins were only to be found at one certain sacred mountain or area.

To my surprise, there are actually many locations and mountains where the hanging coffins can be found, usually in high mountain cliffs.

It is such a wonder how the relatives of the dead were able to place the hanging coffins there.

Hanging Coffins

"Hanging" Coffins

Some are not readily visible to the naked eyes. Surrounded by pine trees and green vegetation, the coffins are camouflaged among the mountain cliff’s similarly grey limestone walls. The local guide had to specifically point to us where the coffins are. They said that the oldest coffin in the group is actually more than a century old.

Sago views the Hanging Coffins

Sago views the Hanging Coffins

My point-&-shoot cam could not focus on both :)

My point-&-shoot cam could not focus on both the coffins and Sago :)

Wikipedia indicates that not just anyone can be buried this way. Some sort of exclusivity is attached to the practice such as the requirement of being married and having grand children.

The coffins are typically made of wood, usually out of a hollowed log. PilotGuides.com narrates how the dead are prepared. The ritual

“involves pushing the bodies into the tight spaces of the coffins, and often bones are cracked and broken as the process is completed…they are then brought to caves high in the cliffs…”

Sagada Hanging Coffins

Sagada Hanging Coffins

Moreover, not all of the coffins are hanged, or can only be found among the cliffs. We came across a pile of coffins near the Lumiang Cave‘s entrance.

Its illegal to get/damage the coffins & the skeletons

It's illegal to get/damage the coffins & the skeletons

Skeleton inside a Coffin

Skeleton inside a Coffin

Sagada Map

Sagada Map

It is sad to note however, that there are some cases where local and foreign tourist tries to touch the fragile coffins, or worse, take bones as souvenirs. This is not allowed and the local government was prodded to take some action. We just hope that they would be effective enough to preserve this cultural history.

* The 3 photos watermarked with Peggy Go are copyrighted and used with permission. They can be found here.
* The “Sagada Map” image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Aside from the beautiful rice terraces, waterfalls, and cool climate of Sagada, we hope that the cultural heritage of the hanging coffins will be preserved.