Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tibetan Low Doors & Ro-Langs

In the past, door of houses in Lhasa, Xigaze, Nyingchi area are very low. Except for small kids, an adult must bow down before one can enter the house. This type of old low doors is quite rare in our modern time; though you can probably find them in Barkhor Street in Lhasa.


The origin of low door


The low door was not a design fault; it has the purpose of preventing a walking dead or Ro-Lang from entering. A Ro-Lang is a corpse of evil doer or a person died from cold and hunger; and it has unfinished business to attend to. The precondition is that the body must be in good condition. In fact, the Tibetan burial custom provided a very ideal condition for the making of a walking dead.


In Tibet, when a person dies, the body is not sent to sky burial site immediately. Instead, it will be kept in the house for 3~7 days for monks to perform deliverance ceremony. It is within this period that a corpse may walk by itself.


Signs of walking dead


According to many elders and sky burial masters, they have seen many walking deads in their life time. The making of a walking dead is not abrupt: the face of a corpse will expand, the skin turns into dark blue, hairs stand upright, body blisters and only after that, the corpse will slowly opens its eyes and sit up. After that it will raise its hands and walk straight to its target.


The characteristics of a walking dead: it doesn’t talk, cannot bend its body, will not turn; not even its eyes. It can only stare straight and walk straight. When this walking dead has caught hold of a living person, it will rub this person’s head and this person will die immediately and also become a walking dead also. However, this type of action has no effect on to an animal.


Types of walking dead


There are five types of walking dead:


·         The skin arising

·         The flesh arising

·         The blood arising

o   The first 3 types can be overcome by poking or puncturing their skin and flesh to release the blood and the corpse will collapse instantly.

·         The bone arising

o   The only way to bring down this type of walking dead is to fracture its bone.

·         The mole arising

o   This type of walking dead is caused by a mole on the body of a corpse. By only destroying its mole that the walking dead can be destroyed.


Regardless if the walking dead is a fact or a fiction, this has inadvertently become a psychological pressure to the Tibetans. We know this as a matter of fact from the design of a low door to block the entrance of the walking dead.


Of course, in ancient days, this type of walking dead prevention method can only apply in the Southern and Eastern Tibet; the vast majority of Northern Tibet, especially the shepherds living in the Hoh Xil frontier, will not be able to utilise such a method for preventing the walking dead. Their antidote to walking dead is the corpse that shows the symptoms of a walking dead, the corpse is tied onto a pole or a big rock.  


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