Asia and the Pacific
These resources about funeral customs in the Asia
and the Pacific basin should start your trek off quite well. Some
annotated resources appear at the top and others are mentioned below. If you want more information please ask a librarian!
¤ Beaglehole, E., & Beaglehole, P. (1945). Contemporary
Maori death customs. Journal of the Polynesian
Society, 54, 91-116.
This interesting article describes the tange, the funeral rite of the Maori people. It was held at the traditional gathering spot the marae. The burial places, urupa, are most frequently near the ancestral home.
¤ Kvaerne, P. (1985). Tibet Bon religion: a death ritual
of the Tibetan Bonpos. In Iconography of
religions (Section XII). Leiden, Holland: E.J.Brill.
This smallish, picture packed volume shows the cultural traditions and funeral rites of the Bonpos, a pre-Buddhist religion. Their funeral customs are intertwined with their belief in the process of death and rebirth or srid-pa. The book touches on the major rites of the three hundred sixty which the Bonpos have surrounding death.
¤ Parry, J. P. (1994). Death in Banaras. New York: Cambridge UP.
Banaras, a city in northern India, is a special site with many Hindu holy men and services to care for the dead. The experience these holy men have makes them the ideal choice for surviving Hindus to assure their departed a good position after death. Just as Saville Row may be known for its tailors, Banaras is known as a final stop to many Hindu people.
¤ Watson, J. L., & Rawski, E. S. (Eds.). (1988). Death
ritual in the late imperial and modern China.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
This hefty tome is a collection of papers presented at a conference on Chinese culture. The essays offer various perspective on death and the different roles that are assumed when someone dies in China. A most interesting contrast to Western though was the role of the Chinese wife in the death rituals.
¤ Merridale, C. (2001). Night of stone: death and memory
in twentieth century Russia. New York:
This enlightening text covers the entire spectrum of death in Russia during the last century. From the killings of the early Soviet era to the recent Chechenyan ethnic cleansing death, the Russian attitude toward death, and customs are covered. Off to a bit of a slow start the book is difficult to put down once one is part the fiftieth page.
¤ Ciolek, T. M. (2002, April 23). Tibetan studies, Tibetan
religion, sky burial. Retrieved December 1,
2002, from http://www.ciolek.com/WWWVLPages/TibPages/tib-burial.html
The account of sky burial, a wonderful title for the ceremony, is amazing. Dr. Ciolek's web page is designed for speed and incorporates no graphics nor special effects, yet the vivid description of this apparently barbaric, yet solemn and comforting ritual, made me visit it several times.
Other valuable resources include:
¤ Tiwari, J. N. (1979). Disposal of the dead in the Mahabharata
: a study in the funeral customs in
ancient India. Varanasi, India: Kishor Vidya Niketan.
¤ Gupta, S. P. (1972). Disposal of the dead and physical
types in ancient India. Dehli: Oriental
¤ Metcalf, P. (1982). A Borneo journey into death: Derawan
eschatology from its rituals. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press.
¤ The tree of our forefathers. Bullfrog Films, Inc. 1994. Videocassette. BBC Television Service.
¤ Releasing the spirits : a village cremation in Bali.
Department of Anthropology. Research School of
Pacific Studies, Australian National University. 1996. (author)
¤ Mourning for Mangatopi. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. 1975. ACT Canberra.
¤ Lay, A. H. (1891). Japanese funeral rites. Asiatic society
of Japan. Transactions, 19(pt.3),
¤ Hawter, P. (2002). Death and dying in the Tibetan Buddhist
tradition. Retrieved December 1, 2002,