The Aborigines of Australia might represent the oldest living culture in the world. Aboriginal culture is most commonly known for its unique artistic technique evolving from the red ochre pigment cave paintings that started cropping up 60,000 years ago, but many don’t know about their complex and environmentally friendly burial rites. One of the most interesting aspects of Aboriginal people is that they’ve maintained many of their ancient cultural practices from stone tools to religion and continue to uphold their traditional values despite a constantly changing global atmosphere.
“Many don’t know about their complex and environmentally friendly burial rites.”
One of the ways Aborigines preserve their culture is by practicing ritualistic burial rites. They mourn the loss of their loved one with symbolic chants, songs, dances, body paint, and physical cuts on their own bodies. But because Aborigines believe in rebirth of the soul, they also have the positive intention of guiding the departed spirit back home to be reborn. In accordance with their religious values, Aboriginal people follow specific protocol after a loved one has passed away. The family of the departed loved one will leave the body out for months on a raised platform, covered in native plants. This makes up the primary burial.
The secondary burial consists of the ceremonial aspect of the funeral. When nothing but bones are left, family and friends will scatter them in a variety of ways. Whether they wrap the bones in a hand-knitted fabric and place them in a cave for eventual disintegration or place them in a naturally hollowed out log, the process is environmentally sound. The respect for nature as well as the loved one who passed away leads me to think there are still many things we can learn from this ancient culture.