More than 150 kilometers from Thanh Hoa, a city in central Vietnam, Pha Quen Mountain hit local headlines in 2010, when more than 10 wooden coffins were discovered inside a cave near the mountaintop. Photos credit by VnExpress
Locally known as "the ghost cave," Pha Quen Cave is almost inaccessible. It is nearly 1,000 meters above sea level and surrounded by high and rough cliffs.
The coffins are suspended above the ground by horizontal wooden bearers attached to the cave's walls. They can be seen near the entrance. Most of the coffins of different sizes have fallen apart, but some are still intact.
According to the first media reports about the discovery, all the coffins were 0.4 meters wide, but their length varied from two to 2.7 meters. Pieces of bones, apparently human, were reportedly found inside the coffins at the time, but they are now empty.
Since the first discovery, more coffins have been found at another two caves nearby. The caves are around 200 meters apart and each has 30-40 coffins. Among them were some 10 small coffins believed to be for children.
Bones and teeth are found in front of one of the caves.
No historical records mentioned the coffins and no elderly people in the neighborhood have any idea about them. The coffins were reportedly first discovered by local farmers.
Historian Pham Van Dau said this could be an ancient ritual of Thai ethnic group. Some Thai families in mountainous districts around Thanh Hoa still follow the tradition of burying the deceased in coffins made from tree trunks. Highland communities such as Muong and Thai consider caves as "holy sites" where they organize many festivals and rituals, Dau said.
Ha Thi Mai, a Thanh Hoa culture official, said local authorities have sought professional agencies' help study the coffins, adding that the province will possibly launch adventure tours to the caves soon.
Original Vietnamese story can be found here