Kabayan Mummies Burial Cave – Philippines

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

The Kabayan Mummies, also known as the Fire Mummies, of the Philippines can be found in the caves of Kabayan.  The corpses in the caves are probably one of the most unique in the antiquity of Earth’s civilization.  The process of mummification began before death, where a person would ingest a salty liquid.  Immediately after death, the corpse was washed and placed over a file, drying out all of the fluids.  Tobacco smoke was also blown into the mouth to dry out the internal organs.  Herbs were then the final step and rubbed all over the dehydrated corpse as a means of preservation.  The corpse was then placed into a pinewood coffin, transported to the burial cave, and laid to rest within the cave’s natural niches.  The entire burial process is estimated to take several weeks to months to finish.

The mummies are believed to have been first created between 1200 by the Ibaloi tribe.  This mummification process slowly died out in the 1500 AD after Spain colonization of the Philippines.

Over time, the burial caves have become an endangered location because up until the 21st century, the caves were left unprotected.  Vandals and grave robbers were the main culprits to the mummies’ desecration.  There are only about 50-80 mummies left within the caves, and their whereabouts have not been disclosed to prevent further vandalization.  Several of the mummies are on display at the Kabayan museum.

An obscure place to visit, for sure.  However, the care and love that went into the mummification process is simply beautiful.

I was not able to find any creative commons photos to post nor a video that had a good enough quality.  So please search for “Kabayan Mummies” or “Fire Mummies of Kabayan” and look at the search result photos.  The mummies are absolutely breathtaking – in a good way.

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