A Chinese cemetery in Sabah


These photos were shot while touring an old Chinese cemetery (or Kuburan Cina) outside of in the Malaysian state of . It is a forlorn, neglected place: a hilltop encrusted with elaborate tombs in various degrees of disrepair. Cemeteries are typically avoided by the local people, a consequence of the widely-held belief that anything to do with death will bring bad luck. Even so, these burial grounds are littered with rubbish and empty glue canisters—an indication that the cemetery entertains at least a few visitors now and then.

The cemetery looks like it is falling apart but the underlying design is carefully thought out. As with other Chinese cemeteries, this one is organized according to the principles of feng shui. I won’t pretend to know much about feng shui but I can appreciate the sound aesthetics of the walking path that flows around the hill and the care with which the graves have been oriented with respect to the rising and setting sun.

The view from the hilltop

The tree on the hill

Hillside of the dead

Farewell to the setting sun

Last remnants of daylight

Last rays of sunlight on the cemetery hillside


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