A Journey on the
River Yangtze

Day 5: Hanging Cofffins and Acrobats

Model displaying the placement of Hanging Coffins on gorge cliff faces along sections of the Yangtze.

After our return to the boat from the Lesser Gorges, we headed toward the city of Wanxian. With a population of 380,000 people, this is quite a large city. We arrived there on our fifth day, we passed through the final gorge--QuTang Gorge, which is an 8 km (5 mile) passage.

On arrival at Wanxian, we disembarked the boat again for another day trip. Driving through the city it is hard to imagine that most of this will be flooded and almost 250,000 poeple will be moved to the new city which is growing up out of the mountainside above the present city.

Here, we visited a musuem to see the Hanging Coffins of the gorges. These coffins belong to an older culture who lived in this area.

Remains from a Hanging Coffin in Wanxian museum

Called the Ba people they buried their dead by suspending the coffins on the cliff faces of the gorges. Some of these coffins can still be seen from boats as you travel on the Yangtze, although many have been removed for preservation.

Coffin made of cedar used by the Ba people to bury their dead.

Hanging Coffins

Archeologists believe that the coffins were placed on the cliff faces in this manner so that they were closer to the heavens. Coffins were either placed in caves in the cliffs or suspended on pegs. A stairs was constructed up the cliff face so that the coffins could be placed up high.


Following the trip to the museum, we went to see a local acrobatic troupe. This group has visited the US on several occasions. What an incredible show they gave us, so young and so talented.

What a balancing act!!
the top person is spinning the hoops on his legs and arms!!

On a bicycle built for one!!

After cycling up the stairs, this acrobat placed bowls on his foot and then kicked them up onto his head, all the time maintaining his balance on the monocycle!!


During our visit to Wanxian, we also experienced a market which was extremely colorful and busy. All the food was fresh which people would buy and bring home to cook.

Bringing home food for a meal

Fresh meat hanging on a tree in the market

A variety of colorful vegetables and spices.

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Day 6: Hydrofoil to a Film Festival

Special Feature: The World's Largest Construction Project--The Three Gorges Dam

Click here to read about a Journey on the River Yangtze from the beginning.

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Center for Global Environmental Education
Hamline University Graduate School of Education
1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
Phone: 651-523-2480 Fax: 651-523-2987