Many ancient coffins have been found suspended halfway up a mountain cliff in the Three Gorges area and on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
It was considered a unique funeral and sacrifice manner for the ancient Ba people, who mainly inhabited the Three Gorges region. People put the bodies of their ancestors into wooden coffins, which were then placed in the caves of precipices.
Taking the form of a ship, most coffins were carved out of one whole piece of wood. According to local people, the location of the coffins varied with the change of the social position of the deceased. The higher the coffins were, meant the more honorable the deceased were. Most of the coffins contained respectable seniors or brave soldiers. It was said that hanging the coffins in this manner prevented bodies from being taken by beasts and the souls of the deceased would be blessed for eternity as well.
For centuries, suspended coffin were unknown until 1958 when a farmer found in a cave some bronze swords, black lacquer, wood combs, etc, the secret of the coffins was uncovered. By what means the Ba people placed coffins in the precipices is still a mystery today.
Suspended coffins are mostly found spread around Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Hubei and Taiwan Provinces.