Photo Essay

Death Rituals

When people die, their bodies are handled according to the religious and cultural practices of the groups they belong to. This celestial burial master feeds the body of a dead Tibetan to the vultures in northwest China’s Qinghai province. In Tibetan regions, where people believe in rebirth and thus no need to preserve the body, they speak of this practice as “giving alms to the birds.”


Questions to Consider:

  1. How do the death rituals of different cultures reflect their various rules, values, and beliefs?

  2. With what different death rituals are you familiar? How do they relate to the rules, values, and beliefs of different subcultures?

  3. Do you prefer one particular death ritual for you and your loved ones? Why? How does this preference relate to your socialization experience?