World Dead Space   Cemeteries: Vietnam

  Cemeteries in northern Vietnam are very distinctive. Historically, family members were buried in the fields where the family grew crops. Today, bodies must be placed in concentrated cemeteries. Bodies are first buried in the ground; after three years, the bones are dug up and reburied. These "villages of the dead" are found among rice paddies and fields. Tombstones are made of

poured concrete and covered with colorful glazed tiles as families have the money to do so. Very poor families have only dirt mounds, as shown by the yellow circle in the above photo. From the many military engagements in Vietnam's history, military cemeteries are a common feature of the rural landscape.

Tho Ha village, north of Hanoi, historically specialized in ceramic coffins for the bones of the dead. The villagers used rejects to build walls, as seen in this photo. In north Vietnam, dead people are first buried in wooden coffins and buried in the ground for about 3 years. Then the remaining bones are dug up and cleaned by specialists, not family members, and placed in small ceramic coffins and buried in a different location from the originally burial site.

By Ingolf Vogeler, based on a trip in January 2003.