Five Interesting (If Not Brutal) Death Rituals Around The World

Published October 25, 2015
Updated February 28, 2018

Finger Amputation

Weird Death Rituals Finger Amputation


Until recently, female members of the Dani tribe of Western Papa, New Guinea would have a finger amputated each time an immediate family member died. The ritual was voluntary and served as an outward expression of internal pain — and to appease the ancestral ghost.

Weird Death Rituals Amputee Woman


“Before amputation, they will tie a string tightly around the upper half of their finger for 30 minutes, allowing it to go numb for a (near) painless removal. Often it is a close family member—sibling or parent—who cuts the finger. After removal, the open sores are cauterized, both to prevent bleeding and in order to form new-callused fingertips.” according to The Plaid Zebra.

The severed finger pieces were then burned in the ashes of the funeral fire – which would then be kept in a place sacred to the family.

Weird Death Rituals No Fingers

Photo by Peter A. Bostrom Source: Lithic Casting Lab

Although it is now a rare practice (and officially banned some years ago), many older women of the Dani tribe recognize the lure of the now-anachronistic practice, and are quick to show their mutilated hands to tourists and photographers.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Kelly, Erin. "Five Interesting (If Not Brutal) Death Rituals Around The World.", October 25, 2015, Accessed May 29, 2024.