Home > Travel > Customs > Government protections ensure continuance of Tibetan sky burial tradition

Government protections ensure continuance of Tibetan sky burial tradition

Publish Time: 2018-08-28 Author: From: Global Times

A griffon vulture Photo: IC

A griffon vulture Photo: IC

A solemn and private traditional ceremony, sky burials have been practiced in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region for more than 1,000 years. The funeral practice sees burial masters carry the dead to the top of a mountain, where they then separate the corpse into pieces which are then offered to birds or other scavenging animals. This type of burial is practiced in many autonomous regions in China, including Tibet and the Inner Mongolia autonomous regions and autonomous prefectures in Sichuan and Qinghai.

Considering the private nature of funerals, sky burials continue to be shrouded in mystery despite having piqued the curiosity of people all over the world.

According to statistics from travel website tibetcn.com, the number of travelers to Tibet soared from 2.15 million to more than 20 million from 2006 to 2014. The sharp rise has helped raise Tibetan culture's profile worldwide, which in turn has caused curious tourists to seek out any chance to see a sky burial for themselves. Though there are laws and regulations that ban photography and recording of sky burials, some people have managed to secretly record some of the ceremonies and then circulate the videos online.

"Photos and videos are regarded as being disrespectful to the tradition and the dead," Wang Yiwen, the secretary general of the Tibetan Association of Collectors and a resident of Tibet for more than a decade, told the Global Times.

The Tibetan government introduced a series of regulations to protect sky burials in 2005, which include provisions forbidding the use of any photographic equipment to record a sky burial ceremony.

Additionally, in 2015, the 10th People's Congress in Tibet passed a law aimed at preserving and regulating sky burials - the first law of its kind in China.

According to Samdrup, the director of the Tibet Autonomous Region Working Committee, legislation on sky burial reflects the government's respect and the protective attitude for traditional Tibetan customs.

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