They were built from the finest timber, curved up at both ends, well smoothened and lacquered, and probably weighed half-a-ton. That describes the traditional Chinese coffin, that is so rarely seen these days.
The Chinese have euphemized names for them, viz., “big house” (大屋子), “longevity planks” (寿板), etc. Despite the more cheery aliases, one look at these massive final earthly abodes for departed souls never failed to arouse feelings of sadness and eerie, gloomy beckoning.
Perhaps for these reasons, the traditional coffins have almost been entirely replaced by modern “caskets” – which have a much less depressing appearance, and are much lighter. Many even sport a glass window for loved ones and friends to take one last look at the occupant.
So, has the final nail been driven into the Chinese coffin ?