In recent years, villages in rural Shanxi province have fallen prey to a particularly ghoulish crime spree involving robbers digging up the graves of local women to use their corpses as brides in “ghost weddings.”
“Ghost weddings” are an ancient tradition in rural China where it is believed that it is bad luck for a man to go off into the afterlife without a woman by his side. This gives quite the opportunity for unscrupulous businessmen with shovels, despite the PRC trying to stamp out the practice all together.
According to Xinhua, the tradition is making something of a comeback. A fresh female corpse is said to fetch up to 100,000 yuan on the black market.
This industry has become particularly big business in the Shanxi village of Dongbao where 15 corpses have been reported stolen in just the past three years with 15 more disappearing in surrounding areas.
The Sunday Telegraph recently visited Dongbao and talked to the people there who had lost the bodies of their loved ones.
“Who knows where they took my mother?” said one villager. “She is now ill-gotten gains for thieves.”
“My grandmother must now be wandering other villages, experiencing a painful afterlife,” lamented another villager.
Instead of a stranger’s corpse, some families have been known to bury a silver statuette or a dough mold of a woman with a deceased bachelor. Others turn to matchmaking services that help to find families willing to sell off their deceased female relatives’ corpses — a practice that is illegal, but allowed.
Still others, believing they will be haunted by the spirits of their ancestors who are buried alone, go to the black market for their corpse needs. Last October, police in Shanxi detained three people suspected of stealing a corpse for a “ghost wedding.” Back in 2013, a gang of four was caught selling off 10 corpses for 240,000 yuan.
In case you are curious, while remains of younger women or the recently dead are preferred (and more expensive), decomposed female skeletons are also an option. Robbers reinforce the skeletons with steel wires and dress them up before burial.
[Video via The Telegraph]