Friday, January 02, 2009

The Corpse Walker

The practice of walking corpses has been around in China since ancient times. The belief is that if a dead person is not returned to his or her hometown as custom dictates they will be considered a lonely soul and a homeless ghost. So in the not so distant past, perhaps even to-day although it is illegal, professional corpse walkers were hired by those who could afford it to carry or walk corpses up to several hundred kilometres, home, to be buried in their native village. Corpse walkers had to be in exceptional physical shape and worked in pairs carrying the body which was strapped to their backs and wrapped under a robe. Often they were kung fu experts to protect themselves from wayside robbers. The book entitled The Corpse Walker by Liao Yiwu is a great expose on this and other aspects of Chinese society from the bottom rungs up.