ancient tibet

If Marvel Studios can take the time to painstakingly find an unknown actor like Tom Holland to portray their very specific version of Peter Parker than they could afford to find a Jewish/Roma actress for Scarlet Witch and Asian actors for Dr. Strange and Iron Fist.

headcanon about plagg's behavior when he saw The Book

as we all know, plagg reacted quite differently when he saw the book, as opposed to tikki who was all, “OMFG GET THE BOOK, MARINETTE”. he reacted quite typically: “duuude, i’m hungry, let’s goooo”.

but, it’s still strange. for what it’s worth, when he listed the things inside the safe, he didn’t mention the peacock brooch thing (r.i.p. my french, please correct me if i’m wrong).

imagine these though.

imagine plagg’s blood running cold when he saw The Book and The Brooch. imagine him freezing up for a split second when he saw “Tibet”. imagine him picking up the pieces together when he saw mama agreste’s picture.

imagine him asking the world what his charge, the poor boy, ever did in his previous life that adrien deserved this.

of course, adrien is close to his heart, considering that the cinnamon roll only wanted one thing in his life which was love. imagine plagg in that one or maybe two, three seconds he was in the safe alone running through all adrien’s possible reactions when he finds out that his father is the papillon. one thing was for sure–it would definitely crush adrien’s heart.

plagg cannot bear it if one of his kittens get hurt.

that’s why he tried getting him away from The Vile Book. that’s why he didn’t mention The Brooch. that’s why he acted like his old silly self.

all so that adrien wouldn’t get the wrong (BUT ACTUALLY RIGHT) assumption.

If you didn’t get the hint, I really, really hate MCU. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but what Marvel has done is way too personal for me to be quiet. The one thing I will force upon you with all my heart, is my pure hatred of the Doctor Strange movie. I’m begging you, please boycott Doctor Strange.

What Marvel is doing with this film is inexcusable. I’m Tibetan, and I grew up in America as a child of refugees. My father was a fan of Marvel comics as a child, and one of his favorite stories was Doctor Strange’s, because of his connection to our homeland, Tibet. The Ancient One was a high Tibetan lama who taught Doctor Strange the art of magic. You might think Marvel’s only crime is whitewashing him, but its a lot worse then that. tl;dr Marvel blatantly turned the Ancient One into a white woman, as well as changed Doctor Strange’s original setting of Tibet to Nepal, in order to avoid any involvement with Tibet’s current politics (aka oppression) with Communist China

The reason my parents are refugees is because of the Chinese genocide of Tibetans. Tibet is a country occupied by China, and is one of the most oppressed countries in the world. You probably don’t know much about it because of China’s position as a global superpower as well as the government’s complete control of media and news. There is no freedom of speech in all of China, therefore national censorship is extremely common and no one who isn’t involved really knows anything. China pretends that all Tibetans are happy and they really do not like anyone even mentioning the Tibet situation, especially outsiders. 

Marvel knows this, one of their main markets is their viewers in China. China has banned a lot of foreign films for long periods of time because of even slight implications of Tibetan oppression (ex: the Avatar the Last Airbender movie). Doctor Strange could get banned if they included Tibet, meaning millions lost. Why bother risking loosing money from China when you can just whitewash everything to cover it up? This is Marvel’s direct statement that they care more about money then human rights, and I’m honestly not surprised. This has always happened, and it will happen again. Literally no one gives a fuck about Tibetans, I’ve seen it happen all my life. Westerners and the Chinese government alike want to hide our oppression, hide our culture until it makes them money, and hide our millions of deaths and losses. If you do happen to be one of the few who do care, please, please, do not support this film and boycott Doctor Strange. 

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Dripping or Kapala - vessel made from a human skull used for ritual purposes in both Hindu and Buddhist tantra in. In Tibet, they are often richly decorated with gold, silver and precious stones.
Tantric ceremonies bowl of skulls filled with wine, symbolizing the blood, and were brought deities. In Buddhist temples Kapali are usually covered with a bronze stand and bronze.

Point of Origin: Gobekli Tepe and the Spiritual Matrix for the World's Cosmologies

How could multiple ancient cultures, spanning both years and geography, have strikingly similar creation myths and cosmologies? Why do the Dogon of Africa and the civilizations of ancient Egypt, India, Tibet, and China share sacred words and symbols? Revealing the existence of a long-forgotten primal culture and the world’s first center of higher learning, Laird Scranton shows how the sophisticated complex at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey is the definitive point of origin from which all the great civilizations of the past inherited their cosmology, esoteric teachings, and civilizing skills, such as agriculture, metallurgy, and stone masonry, fully developed.

BUY THE BOOK

Doctor Yellowface And The Bullshit Machine - Quill’s Scribbles

Doctor Strange. It feels like a lifetime ago since this whole debacle began. So with the movie coming out on the 25th October here in the UK, and on the 4th November in the US, I thought I would hold a little refresher course. Going over all the controversies, lies and general bullshit that have come out of this frankly deplorable piece of cinema.

Of course the first controversial thing about Doctor Strange is the fact that it exists in the first place. Created in the late 60s/early 70s by Steve Ditko (and Stan Lee, but mostly Steve Ditko), while the Doctor Strange comics were surreal, intelligent, philosophical and imaginative, they were also racially insensitive due to the time they were written. Often using racial stereotypes as well as incorporating the mighty whitey trope, where the white lead immerses themselves in another culture and not only learns their ways but becomes their greatest representative. Great care would have to be taken in adapting Doctor Strange because it could become very problematic if handled incorrectly.

More controversy emerged when Marvel announced that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing the title character. This casting choice was something I actually supported, although I did sympathise with others’ concerns. Aside from some of the stupid shit Cumberbatch has said over the years about autism, mislabeling POCs as ‘coloured people’ and the fact that he played the whitewashed Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, he is also a white man. Some believe that it would have been more appropriate to cast an Asian actor in the role, and I do agree to a certain extent. It would certainly have been a way to combat some of the problems with the original source material as well as a great way of diversifying the MCU, which has been repeatedly criticised for its lack of POC representation. However a white Doctor Strange isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. The original comics, particularly the origin story, was very much a criticism of certain aspects of Western culture, including white privilege, materialism and capitalism. With that in mind, Marvel could justify the casting if the film were to specifically address those points whilst also ironing out the more problematic elements of the story. Writing Asian characters that are three dimensional and that don’t conform to stereotypes, and making sure that Doctor Strange doesn’t effectively turn into white Jesus at the end.

But then the shit really hit the fan when Tilda Swinton, a white woman… as in a woman who is not Asian, was cast as the Ancient One. Doctor Strange’s mentor and an Asian character. Yes. Like Batman Begins, Pan and many other movies that came before, Doctor Strange became the victim of whitewashing. A reprehensible and unforgivable practice that erases cultural depictions on film as well as significant job opportunities for POC performers. Whitewashing is wrong. Plain and simple. And yet Marvel, even now, are still trying to defend the casting choice for multiple, ludicrous reasons.

First they tried to deflect the criticism, claiming that people were attacking them for casting a woman in the role as opposed to a man. Kevin Fiege even gave a statement saying that they chose Tilda Swinton because they wanted someone who was ambiguous in terms of gender (whatever the fuck that was supposed to mean). This was bullshit. Not a single person had a problem with a female Ancient One. The problem was the Ancient One was being played by a white woman. If they wanted to gender swap the Ancient One, there are many Asian women they could have picked for the role. Michelle Yeoh would be my pick.

Next they went for the ‘colourblind’ defence, where Marvel said they chose Tilda Swinton because she was the best person for the role and that her character transcended race. This was also bullshit. The Ancient One was written as an Asian character. His culture permeates throughout the entire story. I don’t care how good an actor Tilda Swinton is. She’s white. Casting her automatically erases the culture the character is supposed to be representing. Plus, crucially, the colourblind defence only really works if you’ve cast a person of colour. Because being colourblind should surely give you all the more reason to look outside of traditional casting channels and not cast a white person in a role.

Then came the defence of social progress. That we really should be thanking Marvel because the Asian characters in the Doctor Strange comics were racist stereotypes and therefore casting white people in the roles solves the problem and now everything is hunky dory.

WRONG!

Whitewashing doesn’t solve the problem. It just makes it worse. See while most of the Asian characters in the original comics were racist stereotypes, at least they were Asian. What Marvel are doing is removing the culture from the story entirely rather than putting effort into writing a version of it that is not racist or stereotypical. This isn’t a creative solution. This is a lazy out. If Marvel genuinely think that a bald white woman in a bathrobe is somehow a better solution than writing a three dimensional and respectful Asian character, then the art of storytelling is officially dead.

And then along came C Robert Cargill. Doctor Strange’s screenwriter and all round douchebag. Describing the role of the Ancient One as being a ‘cultural landmine’ in a podcast he said this:

“[The Ancient One is] a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in [a] very weird political place. He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullshit and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.’”

Oh boy! Where do I start with this?

Well for starters the film doesn’t have to be set in Tibet (and it isn’t as far as I’m aware. From what I’ve heard, the Ancient One is going to be based in Nepal in the movie) and you don’t even have to acknowledge the fact that the Ancient One comes from Tibet. As actor George Takei said in response:

“It wouldn’t have mattered to the Chinese government by that point whether the character was white or Asian, as it was already in another country. So this is a red herring, and it’s insulting that they expect us to buy their explanation.”

So what Cargill just said was a blatant lie. And if Marvel were that bothered by it, have the Ancient One come from K’un L’un. You know? The fictional city from Iron Fist? Yeah! That’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe too! Easy to forget I know considering Marvel have made little to no attempt to bridge the gap between the movies and the TV shows. Second, Cargill talks as though the Chinese market will make or break the movie, which is total bullshit as demonstrated by movies like Deadpool and Suicide Squad. Both were banned from China and both went onto to break loads of box office records and make over $700 million at the box office (which is even more remarkable considering that Deadpool was R rated and Suicide Squad was absolute shit). Third, if this statement was true, which it isn’t, it doesn’t exactly reflect well on Marvel does it? ‘Oh no! We’re not really racist! We’re just pretending to be racist because we want your money!’ And fourth, if a Doctor Strange movie really was this politically charged, which it isn’t, and could have sparked outrage internationally, which it wouldn’t, WHY ARE YOU MAKING THE MOVIE IN THE FIRST PLACE?! MAKE SOMETHING ELSE!

This, for me, was when the production of Doctor Strange went from being clueless to being downright insidious. This was further supported by the statements issued by Tilda Swinton and the film’s director Scott Derrickson. In response to the backlash, Swinton voiced her support for the Asian community, saying that they deserve representation, right before eating her own words and stating that she’s playing a white character as opposed to an Asian one, as though that somehow makes it okay. And then Derrickson, on his Twitter account, said this:

“Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cInema. I am listening and learning.”

Nice sentiment, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that he himself is contributing to that same raw anger and hurt that he and Swinton are crying crocodile tears over. In that context, his tweet reads more like ‘Yeah I know I’ve done something wrong… but I don’t care. I’m still going to do it anyway. Fuck you Asians.’ What I would really like at this point (because it’s far too late to pull the film sadly) is for someone at Marvel to grow a pair, admit what they’ve done is wrong and apologise. But that’s never going to happen. Instead all we get is more lies. More excuses. More bullshit. The plain fact of the matter is this. Marvel know what they’re doing is racist, and they don’t care.

Now I’ve been very vocal about my distaste for what Marvel have been doing with this movie, and that has attracted a number of criticisms from some of the MCU’s more braindead fans and Doctor Strange apologists (a few of which, to my alarm, are actually my own followers. I’m not going to name them on here because I don’t want them to be unnecessarily harassed. But they know who they are and they’d better be reading this and taking notes). The most common criticism being ‘But Quill! Doctor Strange isn’t racist! They’ve got a black guy as Baron Mordo and an Asian guy as Wong! What’s the big deal?!’ Do you know what my response to that is? So what?

Yes it’s nice that Chiwetel Ejiofer and Benedict Wong are in the movie, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Ancient One is still being whitewashed and that the film’s Asian culture is still being homogenised. A child killer doesn’t get let out of prison just because the mother got pregnant again. Not to mention the fact that the casting of Ejiofer and Wong brings its own share of controversies. In the comics, Baron Mordo was a rival wizard that wanted to usurp the Ancient One. In the movie, Kaecilius (played by Mads Mikkelsen, another white actor) takes that role while Mordo gets to trail along behind Doctor Strange, following the footsteps of other black sidekicks to the white lead, such as Falcon and War Machine. And Wong initially wasn’t going to be in the movie at all, until Derrickson decided to whitewash the Ancient One, at which point he suddenly felt a desire to bring the character back in order to defy the stereotypes. Funny how he didn’t have that same desire with the Ancient One, huh? Which suggests that it’s okay to put in that kind of effort when the Asian person is just the manservant to the white lead, but when it’s a prominent leading character like the Ancient One, suddenly it becomes ‘too hard’.

At this point it’s perfectly natural to ask why I’m making such a big deal out of this. Well two things. One, this is a big deal for a lot of Asian people who feel as though this film basically serves as one giant middle finger up at their race and culture, and second, Doctor Strange just so happens to be a comic book series I really, really like. Sure it’s problematic, but it was written in the 60s and 70s at a time when people didn’t know better. It doesn’t excuse it obviously, but I’m prepared to overlook it because I feel the story’s central message is a good one. The idea of cultural equality through spiritual unity. That we all have a small, but integral part to play in the lives of others. And that we’re all cogs in an intricate and complex universe. Imagine that in a modern adaptation of Doctor Strange. One that’s politically correct. One that respectfully depicts Asian culture. Combine that with its unique visual style, that could be a powerful movie serving as a perfect antidote for the more chaotic times we currently live in.

This is NOT that movie.

This movie cannot use the same defence of ignorance that Ditko can. The filmmakers should know better than this. There’s simply no excuse for it. Not only is the film’s whitewashing downright offensive, it also completely goes against everything the original story was about. How can there be cultural equality when said cultures are depicted almost exclusively by white people? All that stuff I mentioned before about criticising white privilege and capitalism, you can forget that. Not only will this film not criticise that, it will practically celebrate it. This to me suggests that the filmmakers don’t fully understand or appreciate the comics they’re adapting. And if you require further proof of that, when asked once again to justify the casting of Tilda Swinton, Kevin Fiege said that the Ancient One was a title that was passed down. It’s not. The Sorcerer Supreme is. The Ancient One is the character’s actual fucking name. How can you be confident in an adaptation when the filmmakers can’t get even get the basics of its lore right?

This movie is undeniably more racist than its source material, and it staggers me that people aren’t making a big deal out of this (especially after Cargill’s most recent comments saying that Swinton should be exempt from criticism and that she can play whatever role she wants. He’s clearly unapologetic about how blatantly racist this casting choice is and to that I say that Cargill can officially go and fuck himself). When Suicide Squad came out, there was article after article criticising the movie for being sexist due to its problematic portrayal of its female characters and while the Doctor Strange controversy has been receiving some media attention, it’s nowhere near at the same scale. Why is this? Is it the Marvel Bias? I highly doubt it considering that that’s total bollocks. No, I think @thenameisgul has the right idea. In response to one of my random posts, they hit the nail right on the head. Most of the people who are going to watch this movie aren’t Asian. This doesn’t affect them. And if it doesn’t affect them, why should they care?

Well here’s the thing. I care.

I refuse to watch this movie nor any potential sequels that could come from it. I feel it would be wrong of me to do so both from a moral standpoint and an artistic standpoint, and I encourage you to do the same. Whitewashing is an absolutely disgusting practice that needs to be stamped out. Luckily there’s a precedent for films with whitewashed characters failing at the box office. Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aloha, Pan and so on. But this is Marvel. Populist entertainment. We need to send the message that what they’re doing is absolutely unacceptable in this day and age. And already people are coming up with excuses. It might be good. The visual effects look great. It might be well written. It doesn’t matter. No script or visual effect can solve what is fundamentally wrong with the movie. That is just a band aid over the cancer. If you watch this movie, you have to accept two things:

  1. The movie is more racist than the comics its based off of.
  2. Marvel knows this and have been blatantly lying to you in an attempt to cover their own arses.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is ever going to get better. If this movie is successful, it’ll just give Marvel permission to keep doing what they’re doing and it sends a message to the rest of the industry that this is okay. I implore you to save your money and spend it on something worthwhile. Wait until Disney’s Moana comes out and watch that instead. Save up for that video game you’ve been wanting to get. Stay in and binge watch that TV show you’ve been meaning to watch. Just do anything other than watch Doctor Strange. Let it fade away and be quietly forgotten about, as it should be. Otherwise, fuck it. We might as well just bring this back:

EDIT: Some interesting news has come to my attention (thanks to @captainivyb for bringing said information to my attention and @lyrafay for posting said information in the first place). Turns out Doctor Strange wasn’t always white.

See I started reading the comics from Strange’s origin story onwards, but that wasn’t the first Doctor Strange story. The first was Issue 110 of the paranormal anthology series Strange Tales. In these early Doctor Strange stories, Steve Ditko actually drew the character as Asian:

An Asian caricature, but Asian nonetheless. It was only when the character gained popularity that Ditko decided to make him white. Yes. Doctor Yellowface really is Doctor Yellowface. Initially content with having him be a racist stereotype, Ditko then whitewashed him the moment the character was required to be a three dimensional character. Now I legitimately didn’t know this and I’m quite shocked to say the least. A problematic comic book series that’s even more problematic than I first thought.

What does this have to do with the movie, you might ask? Well here’s the thing. If Marvel are as respectful and knowledgable of the source material as they claim to be, they should already know this. The movie would have been the perfect opportunity to make up for mistakes past. Dare I say they were even obligated to reverse this whitewashing and turn Doctor Strange back into an Asian character (one that wasn’t a racist stereotype of course). They did not. Instead they cast Benadryl Cluttercrotch in the role and thus chose to perpetuate this racist erasure into the 21st century.

Well i don’t know about you, but I think that proves Marvel’s inbred racism quite conclusively, don’t you? Don’t watch this movie.

anonymous asked:

Might one please ask if you think it likely that House Arryn practices "Sky Burials" in the manner of Ancient Persia or modern Tibet? (Given that Grand Master Martin likes to keep funerary customs thematically-appropriate to the Great House in question it suddenly struck me that this is a real possibility, albeit not a certainty).

I’m not sure. We seem to be hit or miss when it comes to funeral concerns. The First Men of the North, Riverlands, and the Westerlands all practiced interring their dead given the tombs that are found in Barrowton, Oldstones, and Casterly Rock, and Arya sees graves buried on the side of the road with a seven-sided crystal, which suggests to be that the Faith of the Seven has the same principle. The only ones who seem to practice something different were the Targaryens who preferred cremation, and perhaps that is a holdover of the Old Valyrian religion, or perhaps it is a practice that grew out of a volcanic land, or maybe it just was a natural extension of the Old Valyrian relationship with fire. But then we see the Tully viking funeral which suggests that funerals are regional, or that religion is not the sole factor of how a funeral gets conducted.

In history, funerary customs tended to be tied to religions as well as regions, and Westeros tends to have more cultural similarities than of our own real world such as we see with the Faith of the Seven and the relatively similar arms doctrine.

So, I have no idea. But if we were worldbuilding, I don’t think that’s a bad addition. You could even have a Frey mock the custom by hanging a corpse out for vultures to peck at…they mocked two people with burial, they could easily mock a third. That being said, I’m going to conclude no, it’s just too different from other funerary practice to not be explicitly mentioned.

You’ve put me in a worldbuilding mood though, so now I’m going to design funerary architecture for each of the regions of Westeros. Even if multiple peoples practice entombment, there would be great style differences which offer insight into a people and their culture.

The North - The North would primarily use barrows. They would be very simple, primarily made of earth and stone, resembling Scottish barrows. A great cairn might be appropriate for a hero or other notables, which would fit Eddard pulling down the Tower of Joy to mark the dead heroes that fell by his side.

The Riverlands - I can see the Tully custom happening in places with low soil and little in the way of stone, but we could also do aboveground mausoleums for important members of Riverlander noble families. The Riverlands are very decentralized, so we’d see a greater variation of custom between noble families. 

The Iron Islands - Burial at sea. The Drowned God wants his oarsmen returned to him. Funerals would likely involve tall tales of the deceased, singing, and probably the odd feat of strength or two. The condemned and the criminals are given the ultimate insult of being left exposed to the storms on craggy mountaintops, forever rained on by their hated foe.

The Westerlands - Richly crafted catacombs dug into the mountainsides, these lavish tombs would be decorated with precious metals and stones. The truly exceptional would also have their deeds carved into the stone, as a permanent monument to the deceased.

The Vale - The Vale would probably have austere tombs. The artwork on them would be somber and reflective, images of death or of the Seven guiding the deceased to the afterlife (the Crone leading people with her lantern, the Father pointing the way, all leading to a central, hooded figure of the Stranger).

The Reach - As befitting a fertile land, the Reach would decorate their tombs with images of growth, life, and most importantly, renewal. Floral imagery would be especially prominent, and there would probably be festivals for the dead in celebration of their lives and what they passed down to others.

The Stormlands - Beautiful hardwood coffins, making rich use of the timber wealth and woodcarving expertise of the Stormlanders, would mark the final resting place of Stormlander nobles. The art would follow the life of the deceased, from birth to death, full of symbolism and carvings and stains of heraldry.

Dorne - Colored sandstone tombs would be the order of the day here. Dornish resting places would look like the tombs of Petra. There would be little in the way of burial riches, but there would be a wealth of carvings and inscriptions of the greatest moments of the occupant’s life.

Thanks for the question, Anon.

SomethingLikeALawyer, Hand of the King

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Some sketchbook drawings of deities, icons and Gods from the Pitt-Rivers museum in Oxford today! Lots of really interesting artefacts, I wish we’d been able to arrive earlier in the morning because these were great to draw from.

Period AUs
  • Prehistoric Peoples AU
  • Ice Age AU
  • Ancients AU–any culture you can think of.
  • Ancient Rome/Greece AU
  • Ancient Asian AU–India, Tibet, China, Japan, etc.
  • Medieval AU–realistic
  • Medieval AU–fantastical and magical
  • Viking AU
  • Kings & Queens AU
  • Renaissance AU
  • 18th Century Royal Court AU
  • Steampunk AU
  • Victorian/Edwardian AU
  • Victorian/Edwardian War Time AU
  • Early 20th century AU
  • Early American West AU
  • World War AUs–soldiers, soldier/nurse
  • 1950s AU–greasers!
  • 1980s AU–because why not.
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Biru Skull Wall,Nagqu

Location The skull wall is near the Duoduoka Charnel Ground in the western part of Biru County, 300 kilometers southeast Naqu in Tibet Autonomous Region. The name “Biru” originally meant the “horn of female Tibetan yak”, according to a local saga, a “tribe of female yak” once settled down here.

About celestial burial Legend has it that Zhigungba Renqenbai set up the Zhigungti Monastery in Maizhokunggar County in 1179, and worked hard to press ahead with perfecting the celestial burial (or sky burial) system to mark the legendary fact that Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism, cut off his flesh to feed a tiger. However, an analysis of what have been found from some ancient tombs in Tibet shows that the system began in the 7th century.

When a celestial burial ritual is held, aromatic plants are burnt for smoke to guide the soul to reach the Ground. The human body serves as a sacrificial object to the Goddess and other deities, who are requested to take the soul of the dead up to Heaven. As a matter of fact, smoke resulting from burning aromatic plants lures the hawks, “holy birds” in the eyes of the Tibetans.

The body is laid on a piece of stone slab measuring 60 cm high, which lies by a pond built with pebbles. The body, in a sitting stance, is sliced. Its bones fall prey to hawks first. The Master in charge of the ritual does so because hawks tend to shun bones. Introduction The skull wall is a result of Tibet’s unique celestial burial tradition. The Duoduoka Charnel Ground occupies an area of about 4,000 square meters.

Earthen walls roughly as tall as a man stand on the ground’s four sides. On the south and west walls, there are some wooden shelves, between four to five stories each, each shelf displaying some orderly-placed human skulls. There are two gates respectively on the west and south of the Duoduoka Charnel Ground’s courtyard. The west gate is for living human beings, while the one on the south is where the bodies are carried in.

The bungalow on the north is exclusively for the monks who carry out the religious celestial burial ceremonies, and inside the rooms are some religious scriptures and figures. Beneath the courtyard of the charnel ground is a cellar, whose floor and walls are built of stones, and which stores Buddha figures, the Tripitaka (the three major parts of Buddha’s teachings), and religious tools and sacrifices.

In the center of the Duoduoka Charnel Ground lies a celestial burial pool of about foursquare meters made of small cobbles. On the pool’s north stands a rectangular stone about 60 cm above the ground. The stone is used to hold the bodies in celestial burials. A pole more than ten meters tall with some prayer flags hung on top stands outside the charnel ground’s south gate. The winter here can be extremely cold, sometimes falling as low as 37-Celsius degrees below zero.

However, no matter how frozen the body is, following a night in the celestial burial pool, it will surely unfreeze the next day, thus ensuring a smooth celestial burial. Nobody yet can explain this phenomenon. This mystery has made the Duoduoka Charnel Ground even more famous, even attracting some people from neighboring counties to choose it for their own death.

Relative Legends According to Duoduoka’s celestial burial master, there were originally three monasteries where skulls were kept after celestial burials: the Duoduoka Monastery, the Ridazeng Monastery opposite the former and the Quedai Monastery nearby. Biru has gained its fame from containing all three monasteries. Unfortunately, most of the skulls have been damaged both by natural and manmade disasters.

By the early 1980s, most of skulls in the Ridazeng and Quedai monasteries have disappeared, despite a very supportive governmental policy in preserving religious relics. But why skulls are kept in the celestial burial of these three monasteries remains a mystery. There are currently many versions of this unique custom’s origin, but two possible answers are prevailing and more accepted.

One version says that the custom was formed some 80 years ago, when an eight-year-old boy from a Tibetan tribe witnessed the killings of three people. The little boy was so scared that he ran directly to the living Buddha in Biru County, who later appointed him as a celestial burial master. He began to pile up all the skulls of the dead in the corners of the charnel ground.

At his death, 42 years later he left behind a wall of skulls. It is said that he built the skull wall to prevent the killer he saw when he was eight from coming to the charnel ground. The other version retains that the custom is a rule established by a living Buddha, whose motives remain unknown.

According to Awangdanzeng, a celestial burial master, the main purpose of keeping the skulls and piling them up against a wall is to remind the living to do more good deeds and restrain from secular desires, because everybody, regardless of their living status, is the same after death.