The Hanging Coffin

First appearing during the Spring and Autumn Period (722-481BC), hanging coffin is a unique funeral and sacrifice custom of the minority groups in southern China. People put the bodies of their ancestors into wooden coffins that were later placed in caves of precipitous cliffsides.

Most coffins were made with one whole piece of wood into various shapes. It was said that the hanging coffins could prevent bodies from being taken by beasts and also bless the soul eternally.

  Famous Hanging Coffin Sites :

While hanging coffins can be found in many places in China, the strange thing is all of them only existed for a certain period in history. Those in Wuyi Mountain are the first appear in China, as early as in the Zhou Dynasty (1027-777BC) while those in Gongxian County of Southwest china’s Sichuan province are the most recent, which also marked the end of the hanging coffin custom.

Hanging Coffins of Bo People in Gongxian, Sichuan Provinve
Hanging Coffins of Guyue People in Dragon Tiger Mountain
Hanging Coffins of Guyue People in Wuyi Mountain

The mystery of hanging coffins

Why did the ancient people bury the dead in hanging coffins?

According to historical records, the Bo people believed “Coffins set high are considered auspicious. The higher they are the more propitious for the dead”. Also, after experiencing years of wars and natural disasters, the Bo people dreamed of going somewhere peaceful and quiet after their death. That is why they chose to rest their bodies on the precipices with the mountains and rivers around, all peaceful, beautiful and quiet. The Guyue people, on the other hand, held a high esteem for high mountains, and believed the higher the hanging coffin was placed; the better they could be protected.

How did the ancient people do it?

So how did the ancient people, including the Bo people and Guyue people, do it? This question once caused heated discussion among experts . Some believe the coffins were lowered down with ropes from the top of the mountain. Some ought the coffins were put in place with wooden stakes inserted into the cliff surface as artificial climbing aids. Others feel that earth ramps were the answer.

Cui Chen, a curator of the Yibin Museum, who examined the three different ways the coffins of the Bo people could have been put in place, has this to say:

“Earth ramps might have been used but experts discount this solution due to the amount of labor required, which would have been difficult in an underpopulated area. A timber scaffold supported on stakes in the cliff might have offered a plausible explanation but years of investigation have failed to find even a single stake hole. On balance the third option of lowering the coffins on ropes from above had always seemed feasible and now cultural specialists have found the telltale marks of the ropes which were used all these years ago. And so this part of the mystery of the hanging coffins has now been resolved.”
During the later years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the imperial army cruelly oppressed the ethnic minority peoples of Southwestern China Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces. In particular, the Duzhangman and Bo Peoples fell victims of massacre. To escape their oppression, the Bo migrated to new locations. They hid their real names and assimilated with other ethnic groups. Like their culture they have disappeared but their descendents are still here for they are a part of us.
How the Guyue people hung the coffins onto the Fairy-water Rocks of Longhushan (Dragon TigerMountain) remains a mystery, since the hanging coffins are so dangerously located. Over the years, it has taken on a mystic air. Some people say the coffins were hung up with the aid from the immortals in the heaven, while others say there are invaluable treasures within the caves. Longhushan Administration Bureau once offered a 300,000 yuan ($US 36298) reward for solving the mystery, but so far no one has won the reward.

 

Santa Muerte

She’s often depicted as the patron saint of murderers and narco-traffickers, and the Catholic Church condemns devotion to her as blasphemy. But Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, is a Mexican folk saint with a growing following across North America, particularly among the marginalized – transsexuals, immigrants, the poor.

santa_muerte

Gods and Goddesses of Life and Death

The One God of the Near Eastern monotheisms— Judaism, Christianity, Islam—is both the creator and stern but loving father of humankind. He cares for his creation from birth to death and beyond. This is somewhat exceptional among world mythologies. Many creator gods are unbelievably remote in time and space: Maheo in the myths of the Cheyenne of the U.S. Great Plains existed before existence, and numerous creators are sky gods, such as Olorun, or “Sky,” in the myths of the Edo and Yoruba peoples of Nigeria.olorun

Although most peoples of the world preferred to believe that creation had a purpose, sometimes it was incidental or even accidental. Qamaits, warrior goddess of the Bella Coola people of the Northwest coast of Canada, killed off the primeval giants who ruled the earth, making room for other life forms merely as a by-product. Coniraya, one of the oldest of Inca gods, could not help but create: His mere touch made everything burst into life.

Such creators often take scant interest in their creation. Qamaits seldom concerned herself with the earth once she had killed the giants and perhaps humans as well; her rare visits caused earthquakes, forest fires, and epidemics. Other creator gods withdraw once the act of creation is over, leaving subordinates in charge. In Ugandan myth, the creator, Katonda, left his deputies Kibuka (war) and Walumbe (death), along with others, to rule his new universe.

The War Gods

War and death are an obvious pairing. Almost no one embraces death willingly, unless seduced by the evil songs of Kipu-Tyttö, Finnish goddess of illness, into joining her in the underworld of Tuonela. To express most people’s sense of death as a battle lost, death is pictured in many myths as a warrior: Rudrani, the Hindu “red princess,” who brings plague and death, and gorges on blood shed in battle; and Llamo, Tibetan goddess of disease, riding across the world, clad in her victims’ skins, firing her poison arrows. Because warriors give protection too, the ancient Greeks were ushered out of life by a gentler psychopomp (soul guide) than in most mythologies, the warrior god Thanatos, brother of Sleep, who escorted the dead to the gates of the underworld.

PaldenLhamoIf war and death seem obvious allies, war and life seem contradictions. Yet it is precisely on the patrons of war, and other gods and goddesses envisaged as warriors, that the business of human life often rests. In most mythologies, the divine energy of the gods is seen as the great motive force of the universe. This energy may be analogous to that of a storm or some other powerful natural force, as in Egypt where the desert wind was personified as the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, who when angry became the Eye of Ra, a terrible war goddess who swept over the land, scorching the earth in her wake.

Just as human warriors are stronger and more active than most other people, war gods and goddesses generally embody pure energy: the Hindu goddess Durga is the anger of Shiva’s consort Parvati, just as Kartikeya (Skanda), Hindu god of armies, is the fierceness of Shiva himself. The divine vigor of these deities is barely contained: Sumerian Ninurta existed as power without form until his mother Ninhursaga confined it in the shape of an eagle-winged warrior. The same idea underlies the curious births of many war gods: Iranian Mithra, born from a rock; Greek Athene, springing from Zeus’s head; Kali, the Hindu death goddess, bursting from the forehead of Durga; and Kartikeya, born from the sparks that fell from Shiva’s eyes. They are eruptions into the universe of divine vitality.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, a number of war gods are themselves creators, like the Mesopotamian Marduk, lion-headed SekhmetMithra in ancient Iran, Min in Egypt, Vahagn in Armenian myth, Unkulunkulu of the Amazulu people of South Africa, and (inadvertently) Qamaits. Many more are deeply involved with the creative and intellectual growth of humankind, their myths saying something universal about the way civilizations develop. Except for the Greek Ares, portrayed as brawn without brain, the war gods are often great benefactors. Tools and weapons are the gifts of Gu, the blacksmith god of the Fon peoples of Dahomey, and of Ogun, venerated by the Yoruba as the power of iron. Craft-skills are bestowed by Greek Athene and Sumerian Ninurta, healing and medical skills by lion-headed Sekhmet and by Unkulunkulu, the Amazulu creator. Magical knowledge is the legacy of Norse Odin, prophecy of Baltic Svandovit. Justice and fair dealing are the province of Norse Tr and Roman Mars, sovereignty and rule of Celtic Medb, Germanic Teutatis, and both Mars and the Roman war goddess Bellona.

It is very often the war gods, too, who oversee the continuance of the human race, and indeed the ability of all living things to reproduce themselves. The myths say this in different ways. Several war gods and goddesses, notably the Greek Ares and the Celtic Medb, were notorious for their sexual appetites. Just as Ares coupled for preference with Aphrodite, so in Haitian voudun (voodoo), Ogoun enjoys sex with the love goddess Erzulie. The Mesopotamian Ishtar, goddess of sex, was in Assyria also the war goddess, to whom were offered the flayed skins and severed hands of prisoners.

This is less a commentary on the rape and pillage historically associated with invading armies than a reflection of a link between war gods and a broader notion of generation and fertility. Gu, in Dahomey, oversaw both fertility and war; Cihuacóatl, Great Goddess of the Aztecs, had charge of war and women’s fecundity. In particular instances, the link between war and fertility might arise from the war god’s dual role as sky and weather god, by analogy with the life-giving rain, as with Mars and Svandovit. Another line of development is represented by Hachiman, who began as aprotector of crops and children, came to protect the whole of Japan, and then became a war god.

Sex and Fertility

Sucellus, the Good StrikerBut war gods aside, a connection between sex/fertility and death is made in many mythologies from the most ancient past down to the present time. Nergal in Mesopotamia, embodied as a bull (a widespread symbol of virility), was notorious both for his sexual activity and also for dragging mortals off to the underworld; Sucellus, the “Good Striker,” in Celtic myth had a hammer which he used both to strike plenty from the ground and to hit dying people on the forehead to make death easier; Ghede, originally the Haitian god of love, was in later voudun belief amalgamated with Baron Samedi, the dancing god of death who was often questioned via blood sacrifice on questions of fertility.

This link between sex and/or fertility and death is epitomized by Hathor, originally a fierce blood-drinking Nubian war goddess who wore the same lion-headed form as Sekhmet. When introduced into Egypt, she became the cow of plenty whose milk was the food of the gods and kept them fecund. It was Hathor, too, who entertained the sun god Ra on his nightly voyage through the underworld, and also guided souls to the court of the judge of the dead, Osiris.

Life and death are two sides of the same coin: Innanna, Sumerian goddess of sex and fertility, is the twin sister of Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld. They are not two but one, a dual goddess, light and dark. Consider the Irish myths of the Daghdha. Wise, associated with magic, like the war gods he was master of arts and skills. But he was also the gluttonous god of abundance and of fertility, coupling with Boann, the spirit of the river Boyne, as well as his wife Dana, and with the war goddess the Morrigan (significantly on New Year’s Day). He wielded a huge club—with the knobbed end killing the living, the other restoring the dead to life.

Other Aspects of Gods and Goddesses

Some mythologies have vanished; some have gone on to become world faiths. One of the survivors is Hinduism, which expresses its philosophy of life and death in the myth of Shiva, a warrior of vast strength, the most powerful being in the universe, armed with invincible weapons (including a bow made from the rainbow and a trident of thunderbolts). Like many war gods, he was born oddly,

The connection between fertility and death is made in many mythologies. The orginal Nubian war goddess turned Egyptian fertility goddess, Hathor, is characterized by these labor amulets. CORBIS

The connection between fertility and death is made in many mythologies. The orginal Nubian war goddess turned Egyptian fertility goddess, Hathor, is characterized by these labor amulets.

CORBIS

from a slit in a vast penis that appeared in the universe. (He is still honored in the form of a phallic stone column, the lingam.) At the same time, his titles include Kala (“Death”) and Nataraja (“Lord of the Dance”), because of the terrible dance he dances at the end of each cycle of the universe, when he opens his fearful third eye and unmakes the whole of creation. He is one of the three supreme deities: He destroys, Vishnu preserves, Brahma maintains balance. Together, they order the universe.Though many ancient mythologies explained how death came into the world, comparatively few promised a better life to come. Their underworlds were mostly gloomy places, into which the dead were thrust by hideous demons or fierce warrior-deities, and there either forgotten by their creator or made to stand trial before some dread underworld lord such as Osiris in Egypt or in Chinese Buddhist myth the Four Kings of Hell, who guard the Scrolls of Judgment in which all past lives are recorded. No wonder that many underworlds are filled with unhappy souls, like the spirits led by Gauna, death in the myths of the Bushmen of Botswana, who are so miserable in the world below that they keep trying to escape and take over the world above.

But several societies evolved myths of death and resurrection gods built on the analogy with plant life, which springs up and dies in an annual cycle. The Greeks told the story of Adonis, loved by both Aphrodite and the underworld goddess Persephone. When he was killed by a jealous Ares, scarlet anemones sprang up from drops of his blood. Zeus solved the rivalry between the goddesses by decreeing that Adonis should spend half his year with Aphrodite, half with Persephone in the underworld.

Death and resurrection gods form the background to the emergence in the Near East of mystery religions, so-called because only initiates knew their secrets. These extended the chance of a better hereafter beyond a close circle of special people, such as the pharaohs and nobles in Ancient Egypt afforded a kind of immortality by mummification; Greek heroes taken to the happy Isles of the Blest instead of gloomy Hades; and Norse warriors carried off the battlefield by Odin’s battle-maidens, the valkyries, to the everlasting feast in his mead-hall Vallhalla, whereas those who died in their beds were consigned to the dismal realm of the goddess Hel.

OsirisThe mystery religions promised life after death to all believers. In Egypt, Aset (Isis), sister and consort of Osiris, by her magical skills reassembled the corpse of Osiris, after he was dismembered by his brother Set. However, the gods decreed that Osiris (perhaps because he could no longer function as a fertility deity, Aset having been unable to find his penis) should henceforth serve as judge of the dead in the underworld. From this evolved the Mysteries of Isis, a popular cult in Ptolemaic Egypt and Rome, from the first century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E. At their initiation, devotees were told the secret name of the sun god Ra, which Isis won from him in order to revivify Osiris. They believed that knowing this name empowered them to conquer age and sickness, even death.

From Iran came the cult of the creator and war god Mithra who fought and killed the primeval bull, from whose blood and bone marrow sprang all vegetation. He eternally mediates on humankind’s behalf with his father, Ahura Mazda, the god of light, and combats the dark lord, Ahriman, the evil principle. This battle will end on Judgment Day with Mithra’s triumph. In ancient Rome, where he was known as Mithras, Mithra became the focus of a mystery religion practiced especially by soldiers. Initiation into his cult, as into that of Isis, was believed to ensure immortality. The cult never became widespread, partly because it was secret, partly because it was austere, but chiefly perhaps because it was closed to half the population—the women.

By contrast, Christianity spoke to both sexes. It outlasted both the Mysteries of Isis and those of Mithras, perhaps because the answer it gave to the question “What happens to me after death?” was the same for everyone, king or subject, master or slave, soldier or farmer, man or woman. Moreover, the bodily death and resurrection of Christ himself, prefiguring the triumph over death of all who believed in him, was said to have happened to a historical person within or almost within living memory, rather than to a god in some remote mythical time.

Complete Article HERE!

Dia de los Muertos (Day Of The Dead)

More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock death.

It was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards would try unsuccessfully to eradicate.

A ritual known today as Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

The ritual is celebrated in Mexico and certain parts of the United States. Although the ritual has since been merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles of the Aztec ritual, such as the use of skulls.

Today, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend, according to Mary J. Adrade, who has written three books on the ritual.

The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth.

The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the monthlong ritual.

Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.

“The pre-Hispanic people honored duality as being dynamic,” said Christina Gonzalez, senior lecturer on Hispanic issues at Arizona State University. “They didn’t separate death from pain, wealth from poverty like they did in Western cultures.”

However, the Spaniards considered the ritual to be sacrilegious. They perceived the indigenous people to be barbaric and pagan.

In their attempts to convert them to Catholicism, the Spaniards tried to kill the ritual.

But like the old Aztec spirits, the ritual refused to die.

To make the ritual more Christian, the Spaniards moved it so it coincided with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 1 and 2), which is when it is celebrated today.

Previously it fell on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar, approximately the beginning of August, and was celebrated for the entire month. Festivities were presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The goddess, known as “Lady of the Dead,” was believed to have died at birth, Andrade said.

Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in certain parts of the United States and Central America.

“It’s celebrated different depending on where you go,” Gonzalez said.

In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. They decorate gravesites with marigold flowers and candles. They bring toys for dead children and bottles of tequila to adults. They sit on picnic blankets next to gravesites and eat the favorite food of their loved ones.

In Guadalupe, the ritual is celebrated much like it is in rural Mexico.

“Here the people spend the day in the cemetery,” said Esther Cota, the parish secretary at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. “The graves are decorated real pretty by the people.”

Complete Article HERE!

Paper garments for the grave: artists encourage death talk

A Tasmanian exhibition of wearable paper art is exploring society’s unwillingness to talk about death.

Tasmanian artists are hoping to provoke important conversations about the end-of-life stage in an exhibition initiated by the palliative care sector.

paper grave clothes

Wynyard paper artist Ritchie Ares Dona creates his pieces from the pages of second-hand books.

“(I am) making a garment out of paper for a dead body,” he said.

His piece, called Eulogy, is being crafted from the heartfelt messages of Tasmanians who have lost loved ones.

“Some of them were writing letters as if the person were still living,” he said.

“Some of them are confessions.”

It is part of an exhibition to get underway in December called Paper Garments for the Grave.

Jenny Fuller from the Tasmanian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care hopes it provokes important conversations.

“(We’re) trying to get the community talking more comfortably about death and dying and end-of-life decision making,’ she said.

The exhibition starts in Burnie and will tour the state next year.Body Mould

It was inspired by Melbourne designer Pia Interlandi, who helps people make real clothes for their own burials.

“Part of what I do is a ritual, and a moment that is deeply entwined in their lives. I feel really nervous,” she said.

Curator Kitty Taylor said the use of paper as a material had great significance.

“Paper is fragile, as is life, and we just really like those connections,” she said.

“And processes that we can do to paper to strengthen them, there’s a really nice analogy in that about life as well.

“Some are actually making their own garments, so as you can imagine that’d be quite an emotional experience.”

Complete Article HERE!

For more information about the exhibit visit the Burnie Arts & Function Centre, visit their website HERE!

The Urban Death Project Will Help You Give Back—by Turning You Into Compost

An architect comes up with a surprising way to be productive one last time.

By Nina Shapiro

Katrina Spade started thinking about her mortality when she hit 30, while studying architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. What would she want to happen to her body after she died? she wondered. A traditional burial was out. She didn’t like the idea of putting her body in a casket, “pumped full of formaldehyde.” “I guess I’ll be cremated,” she thought, envisioning her ashes being scattered in beautiful New Hampshire, where she grew up, or maybe over the ocean.compost mortem01

Then she started musing over the notion of a “natural burial,” a phenomenon that has caught on in the past 10 or 15 years, helped by its starring role in one episode of the popular mid-’00s TV show Six Feet Under. Bodies skip the embalming process and are placed into the ground wrapped in a biodegradable cover—a simple pine coffin, perhaps, or even a cardboard box. Spade liked the idea of getting “bodies back to the earth as quickly as possible.” The problem was that natural-burial cemeteries are usually located outside cities, where there is more land. And Spade considered herself a devoted city dweller, even in death.

Could there be an urban alternative? This, she thought, was a design problem. And, as an architecture student, design problems were her métier.

So began Spade’s work on what she calls the “Urban Death Project,” which turned into her thesis. Its central idea is so radical, so contrary to deeply ingrained notions about how we treat our dead, that she knows that one wrong word used to describe it will turn people off. But there’s only one plain way to put it: Our bodies would be composted. Turned to dirt, spread on gardens, used, as Spade sees it, for something “productive one last time.”

Radical or no, her vision—which she kept refining after graduating, moving to Seattle, and taking a design job with the nonprofit architecture firm Environmental Works—is getting some traction. Late last month, the New York foundation Echoing Green awarded Spade an $80,000, two-year fellowship that will allow her to work on the project full time and build a prototype in the Seattle area.

“We recycle everything, why can’t we recycle ourselves?” asks Nora Menkin, who has heard Spade talk about her idea. Menkin is the managing director of Seattle’s Co-Op Funeral Home of People’s Memorial, which seeks to provide affordable cremations and burials and help families explore alternatives to the norms developed by the heavily commercialized funeral industry.

compost mortem02Spade is not the first to float the idea of composting bodies, according to Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a Washington State University agriculture professor who has long worked on composting projects. But, she says, “This is certainly the most serious and socially appropriate trial I’ve heard about.” By that she means that Spade’s project tackles not only the mechanics of composting bodies, but also our need to create meaningful ceremonies around death and to treat the remains of our loved ones with respect.

“I’m asking people to accept that we don’t all need our own space when we die.”
Spade, speaking by phone last week from Rhode Island, where as it happens she was attending a memorial service for her grandmother, explains that she sees one of her chief jobs as “making this an incredibly beautiful experience for people.” The model she has come up with, pictured in drawings that can be seen on her website, involves a four-story building that would have a series of ramps connecting each floor. The vertical model saves space; Spade envisions it needing no more than a plot of land suitable for a small apartment building. Crucially, though, the structure also plays a ceremonial role, as loved ones would walk the body up the ramps in ritualistic procession.

On the third floor, the family would pause and the body would be wrapped in linen. Spade envisions a “death midwife” taking the lead here. Death midwives, also known as “home funeral guides,” are another product of the movement to reclaim life’s end from the industry that has grown up around it, according to Menkin, who took a California workshop to train for such a role herself. Midwives clean and prepare the body for what comes next, often working with family members who want to help—the process that Spade sees happening on the third floor of her center.

Then, family members would walk the body up to the top floor. Here, they would lay the body on what Spade calls “the core”—the compost pile of bodies that would be mixed with wood chips and sawdust in a formula that fuels the decomposition process. Our bodies in themselves are a great start, full of “nutrients” that microorganisms love to eat, according to Carpenter-Boggs, who adds that it’s this feeding frenzy that produces the energy crucial to the process.

Spade acknowledges that this communal pile, rather than individual plots of land or a cherished urn, is a psychological leap. “I’m asking people to accept that we don’t all need our own space when we die.”compost mortem03

And what about the smell? Spade says that’s the first question she gets—a crucial one, because foul odors are a big problem at many composting facilities. Local composting giant Cedar Grove has faced community complaints about that for years.

Spade says she’s confident that won’t be an issue with her death centers, pointing to the process used to compost livestock animals. Carpenter-Boggs, who’s helped pioneer the practice at WSU with the university’s farm animals, explains that there are fewer fumes than at commercial facilities because animal composting doesn’t involve rotting garbage. Commercial faculties also sometimes use smelly manure as additives to the compost pile. That practice would be avoided when dealing with humans, says Carpenter-Boggs, who is working as an informal consultant to Spade.

The professor imagines the death centers, which would use neutral or even sweet-smelling additives, smelling “like a garden.” Indeed, Spade hopes city dwellers will treat her sites as if they were such, strolling through on their lunch hour, for instance.

Still, there’s no doubt she’ll have to overcome what Menkin calls “the ick factor.” The co-op funeral home director says marketing will be key.

Spade has got a start on that. She makes the environmental arguments for composting, noting that it won’t take up arable land, require “toxic” chemicals as embalming and burial does, or use the 30,000 cubic feet of natural gas that she says it takes to burn a single body. If some might bristle at that approach—Michigan funeral director Thomas Lynch quipped to The New York Times, writing about natural burials a decade ago, that one must now be a “politically correct corpse”—Spade also has a financial case. She says composting should cost far less than either burials or cremations.

Complete Article HERE!

10 Amazing Things Your Ashes Can Do After You Die

By Amanda Green

Image credit:
Lifetime Hourglass Urns

Ashes to ashes, dust to … diamonds? Here are 10 ways to give cremains a life after death.

1. An hourglass

Time for some symbolism! Hourglass iconography on gravestones dates back to the Puritans. Now Lifetime Hourglass Urns can accommodate the ashes of one or two loved ones.

2. A Vinyl Record

Your cremated loved ones can’t turn over in their graves, but they can spin right round on a record player. The British service And Vinyly presses ashes into vinyl so the dearly departed can rest in peace at 33 rpm. Families can provide the audio or have the service compose an original song, known as “bespook music.”

3. A Diamond Ring

Human life is finite, but diamonds are forever. The memorial jewelry company LifeGem uses carbon from cremains to create diamonds of assorted cuts, colors, clarity, and carats. The gems can be used to make various pieces of jewelry, but we’re thinking an engagement ring might be a little creepy.

4. A Teddy Bear

To paraphrase Yogi, this is more morbid than the average bear. The company Huggable Urns stores cremains inside the plush and cuddly body of a stuffed animal.

5. Tattoos

Commemorative tattoos don’t just honor deceased loved ones. Some are made with them! Tattoo artists can sterilize cremains and then mix them with tattoo ink, so the dearly departed is always under your skin.

6. Something to Write With

Ink isn’t for everyone. The Carbon Copies project by designer Nadine Jarvis turns cremains into a set of 240 pencils. Each is stamped with the departed’s name and birth and death years. Pencils are accessed one at a time and sharpened into a wooden box. After each pencil is used, the box of shavings can be kept as an urn.

7. A Portrait

Now a painting of your late grandmother can really be of your grandmother. A number of artists mix cremains and paint to create a special memorial portrait, landscape, or still life.

8. Stained glass

Let there be light. Stained glass pieces bonded with cremains are beautiful alt-urnatives, err, urn alternatives.

9. Human DNA trees

Here’s a new twist on the tree of life. An art venture called Biopresence claims to transcode human DNA into trees to create a leafy, living memorial that isn’t technically genetically modified. Consult their helpful chart above if you have any questions. We’re guessing it’s not like Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas.

10. Fireworks

Go out with a bang! Companies like Heavenly Stars Fireworks transform ash scattering into a pyrotechnic extravaganza. Writer Hunter S. Thompson was memorialized this way in 2005. If ammo better suits the departed, a company called Holy Smoke turns cremains into shotgun shells.

Complete Article HERE!