The Cochinchinese, like the Chinese, have many superstitions connected with the burial of the dead ; one of these accounts for the uniform direction of the graves in Dong-tаp-trau, and another for their general structure.
As in China, the dragon is frequently seen sculptured on their tombs. When death takes place in a family, this sorcerer or master of the mysteries of ‘Feng-shui’ is called in to superintend the burial of one who, it may be, has been a victim of his quackery ; and, as a matter of business, he is expected to dispose of the corpse in such a way that the spirit in its new state will aid the fortunes of the house.
He therefore proceeds to Dong-tap-trau, with a Chinese compass in the one hand, and an idol in the other. His first care is to find the position of the head of the terrestrial dragon, in order that he may rest the head of the body upon it.
He then carefully takes the bearings of the stream that flows through the plain, so that the body may be placed with its feet towards the source.
Were it placed with its head towards the source, it is believed that the spirit would be eternally engaged in striving to make way against the current, and thus suffer, through the neglect of surviving relations, the torments of a perpetual watery hell.
Text: John Thomson
From the book: The straits of Malacca, Indo-China and China; or, Ten years’ travels, adventures and residence abroad
by Thomson, John (1837-1921)
Publication date: 1875
Publisher: London, S. Low
Photo: old photo from internet
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