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People Jerky… The Fire Mummies of the Philippines

When I normally think of the process of mummification, I picture the old Egyptian-style pulling the brain out through the nose technique – which is probably historically inaccurate, but I think I heard it as a kid and it stuck with me – and not about bodies salted and smoked for months, until every drop of moisture had left their body and they were perfectly preserved.

From the title of this post, you may surmise that the ancient Ibaloi people of the Philippines smoked their corpses for consumption – you would be wrong. It was just the first thought that popped into my head when I thought of a smoked mummy. I recently ate some bomb beef jerky (BKH omg)…is that weird? Anyway, when I normally think of the process of mummification, I picture the old Egyptian-style pulling the brain out through the nose technique – which is probably historically inaccurate, but I think I heard it as a kid and it stuck with me – and not about bodies salted and smoked for months, until every drop of moisture had left their body and they were perfectly preserved. This is how the Ibaloi mummies of the Timbac Caves above Kabayan, Philippines were preserved from approximately 2000 BCE to 1500 CE, when the Spanish colonizers muscled in and made the practice taboo. Unlike most mummification, the Ibaloi style of corpse preservation began, if possible, before death. The dying person drank a solution of very salty water in order to make the preservation process easier. Once they dies, they were washed and placed in a chair that sat over a fire. In addition to the fire smoke, tobacco smoke was also blown into the body to help preserve them from the inside out. Herbs were rubbed on the body, and the smoking process went on for months, until their body became a leathery husk. It was then put into hollowed pine trunks and placed in the sacred caves of Mount Timbac. Check out some awesome photos of the Fire Mummies of the Philippines below…

Photos: Edgar Alan Zeta-Yep, except where noted

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Photo: Tadolo

cave-mummies-mount-timbac-kabayan

Photo: Tadolo

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Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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