What can we learn from the study of death and burial practices throughout world history? This essential reference draws out the underlying meaning of funeral and afterlife traditions and makes available a variety of human responses to that most fundamental reality in the cycle of life: death.
Readers of Death and the Afterlife: A Cultural Encyclopedia will find that spending time with death is life-giving in most cultures today and throughout history. The Underworld, whether the Greek Hades or the Chinese Yellow Springs, is not just a repository of the dead, but the source of fertility, wealth, and hidden wisdom bestowed only upon the adventurous who cross the border between this world and the next.
This comprehensive reference work contains hundreds of entries on the sometimes obscure, complicated, and mysterious (but always fascinating) funeral customs of dozens of cultures. More than a gathering of information, this reference draws out the underlying meaning of funeral and afterlife traditions. Each entry is extensively documented and includes the insights of thoughtful native authors and commentaries directly related to the cultural topic at hand. A topic finder by culture, a bibliography, an index, and primary source references are included.