Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves


Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves is part of the Tentative list of Philippines in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The Ibaloi and Kankanay tribes of northern Philippines practice fire mummification ritual that dates back over 2000 years before Spanish colonization. The mummification process is long: starting with the dying person allowed drink saline liquid, then salts and herbs applied to the skin, and after death the body is smoked out with tobacco and fired to dryness before being placed in fetal position on a coffin and transferred to the burial caves – collectively known as Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves. Due to looting and illegal trade of the mummies in 20th century, only 50 - 80 caves with mummies are identified but their locations are now well protected and undisclosed.

Map of Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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Philippines - 09-Nov-15 -

Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves (T) by Boj

The Kabayan town of Benguet Province in Northern Luzon boasts two possible UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Mt. Pulag National Park, and the Ibaloi fire mummy burial caves - the latter I visited early November 2015.

Five cave sites are open for viewing; I visited three - Opdas cave, Timbac cave and Tenongchol cave (pictured here). According to locals, many other burial caves are found all over the Kabayan valley - and I support the decision in keeping them secret. A number have been stolen and sold in the black market, and those in the five cave sites are in dire need of conservation.

The property was one of my choices for graduate thesis, proposing to study: "aspects determining the geographic locations of the burial sites, i.e., identity and social status of the mummy, surrounding landscape, access, elevation and orientation of cave entrance, and alternative locations for burial."

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Full Name
Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves
Structure - Burial
2006 Added to Tentative List

The site has 1 locations

Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves (T)
WHS 1997-2023