Indonesian Zombie Photo: Real, Fake, or Misunderstood?
Stories of the dead rising from the grave have haunted our dreams since the dawn of time. To some cultures, the concept of raising the dead is not merely the stuff of nightmares. In some regions, this practice still takes place, and to the people involved, it is very very real.
I recently happened upon a photo that purports to depict a real “Walking Corpse” in Toraja, Indonesia. See the disturbing image below:
In the above photo we see what appears to be a Corpse standing upright. Next to her is a coffin full of layers of cloth. Some say that this is an image of a reanimated corpse being led to her new burial spot.
From what I can gather, the Toraja people do practice something akin to the rising of the dead. It seems that the people believe that death is a long process, sometimes taking years as the deceased gradually works their way toward Puya (the afterlife). Very elaborate measures must be taken during the funeral to ensure that the loved one makes it safely to that destination.
Because the funeral arrangements are so extensive, they are also very expensive. For this reason, a body is sometimes placed in a temporary coffin. During this time, the family can accumulate the necessary funds to pay for a proper funeral, which includes a cave or hanging casket, a multi-water buffalo slaughter, chanting, singing, music, stone and wooden effigies to protect the soul during travel, and so on.
Once the funds are raised, so is the dead. It seems that the Toraja genuinely believe that the dead are able to walk themselves to their new burial site. More likely, and what we are seeing depicted in the above picture, is that the somewhat mummified corpse is removed from its temporary coffin and transported upright to the permanent site. As “corpse walking” is part of the tradition, the body is held in the standing position to simulate ambulation.
Now, as a disclaimer, I am not 100% certain that this is what we are seeing in the photo. I can only assume. You’ll notice that the arms are crossed in front of the body as they often are in narrow caskets. The head is bowed down, almost as though there had been a pillow below it.
Now, some have speculated that perhaps this is a photo of an actual living woman who is suffering from leprosy or some other disfiguring condition. Others say this is simply a hoax of the Photoshop variety. I don’t believe it is faked. When popping the following URL into Google Translate, we can see that at least the writer here believes it is real.
Some interesting info on the Toraja people can be found on the following Wiki entry:
Now, with all of that said, I cannot help but think about the Wes Craven film, The Serpent and the Rainbow. That movie scared the wits out of me when I was younger, and this photo and tale of the walking dead brought it all back.