Hanging Coffins of Sagada is a unique burial place in the Mountain province of the Philippines. Igorots, the indigenous people of the Philippines, have been following a sacred sky burial tradition for about 2000 years by burying their dead in hollowed-out coffins, nailed to the sides of the cliff high above the ground. According to their belief, the higher the dead are buried the bigger the chances of their spirits reaching out to their ancestral spirits and heavens. Also, they wanted to protect the bodies from decomposition. Another reason was the fear of the head hunters as people from the enemy provinces would attack the dead and behead the corpses to use the heads as trophies.
The tradition is reserved for the distinguished members or the leaders of the community. There are strict rules to be buried in these coffins, and the sacred rituals must be performed before each burial. The height at which the coffins are placed reflects the social status. Most of the people buried in these coffins are elderly men but there is one documented case of a woman being buried in there as well. Some of the coffins are over a century old.
The elderly carve their coffins from hollow logs, and if they are too weak or ill, their families prepare them instead. The coffins are usually small since the dead are placed inside the coffin in a fetal position, as Igorots believe that a person should leave the world in the same position they came into it. The bones can be cracked as well to make the corpse fit in. Eventually, the coffins deteriorate and fall.