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For centuries, the Anga tribe of Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Highlands have practiced a unique mummification technique – smoke curing. Once smoked, the mummies aren’t buried in tombs or graves; instead, they are placed on steep cliffs, so that they overlook the village below. The very sight of a string of charred, red bodies hanging off the mountains might seem quite grotesque, but for the Anga people, it’s the highest form of respect for the dead.
The process itself is carried out carefully and thoroughly by experienced embalmers. At first, the knees, elbows and feet of the corpse are slit, and the body fat is drained completely. Then, hollowed-out bamboo poles are jabbed into the dead person’s guts, and the drippings are collected. These drippings are smeared into the hair and skin of living relatives. Through this ritual, the strength of the deceased is believed to be transferred to the living. The leftover liquid is saved for later use as cooking oil.
In the next stage, the corpse’s eyes, mouth and anus are sewn shut, in order to reduce air intake and prevent the rotting of the flesh. This is believed to be the key step that ensures the mummies are perfectly preserved for centuries ahead. The soles of the feet, the tongue, and the palms are also sliced off and presented to the surviving spouse. The remains of the corpse are then tossed into a communal fire pit and smoke cured.
Once thoroughly smoked, the mummy is coated in clay and red ocher, which act as a natural cocoon, protecting the body from decay and scavengers. The process is now complete and the mummy is ready to go on display. Anga men, women and even babies are mummified using the same method; mummies dating back at least 200 years can still be found in the Morobe Highlands today. During celebrations and events, the mummies might be brought down from the cliffs, only to be returned soon after.
The Anga mummification process can be a scary thing for people who don’t understand what the ritual is about. In fact, the curing was banned in 1975, when Papua New Guinea gained its independence. Today, many tribes perform Christian burials, and only a few tribes in remote pockets still prefer to mummify their dead.
originally posted by: skunkape23
I can only imagine the smell. Cooking oil rendered from smoked human bodies.
Imagine if Col. Sanders had grown up in that neck of woods.
originally posted by: DarknStormy
a reply to: Kangaruex4Ewe
Imagine going for a walk through Papua New Guinea and coming across these? The thoughts that would run through your head lol.
originally posted by: beansidhe
Who thinks 'Mmm, oh I know, let's smoke him and have him watch us from a basket in the cliffs'?
You raise a great question about hiding v displaying the dead's body though. Food for thought.
originally posted by: Sublimecraft
a reply to: Kangaruex4Ewe
I have armed security primarily because I'm a white fella. The locals also know that I work for a very powerful global company in the resources sector - my kidnap ransom would clear the city debt.
Other than that, when back in Australia, I'm a regular yobbo just like the rest of youze.
originally posted by: tinner07
Not to make fun of their practices but I have to wonder about their "learning curve" on this. Maybe somebody first wanted an ancestor overlooking the village and tied them up there. Several weeks days/weeks later a smelly mess came a tumblin down.
So somebody decided to cook the body first, resulting in a terrible stench that emptied the village for a day or two.
You know they didn't get it right on the first try