Round the world

Here is a selection of interesting stuff from around the world, proving the point that there are any number of approaches to what we do with the body, mostly thanks to practical and cultural considerations.

Sky burial, feeding the  corpse to the vultures, is possibly one of the most compelling practices. This moving film links the practice to the land and religious context of a remote high altitude Tibetan village.

By contrast, check out a rousing sales pitch for a ‘skyline columbary’ (for urns) on a hill above Cebu, Philippines –  to Handel’s Messiah. The background is a lack of burial space. (Columbaries have little niches like a dovecote, columba being the word for the pigeon family).

Female Japanese contemporary artist Fuyuku Matsui finds life in reworking traditional images and views of decay.

Jennifer Crangle writes about one of only two Mediaeval bone stores (ossuaries) still existing, this one in Northamptonshire.  The Rothwell Charnel Chapel and Ossuary Project. Past Horizons. August 03, 2013.

Walter Schels, Beate Lakotta and the Wellcome Trust produced Life Before Death, amazing portraits and short biographies of people before and after death.

Meanwhile, The Urban Death Project in the States is exploring composting in the urban environment. But would we want our relatives’ remains to be spread with those of many others on municipal green sites?

What is the impulse to preserve (and even display) the dead? This short film about the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo shows that corpses have not always been concealed below ground and forgotten: