UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


World Wide Mausoleums

The Mausoleum at Halikarnassos (modern Bodrum) was a large and elaborate tomb built for king Maussollos of Karia, south west Turkey. Although built on a much grander scale, the Mausoleum took inspiration for its design from the Nereid Monument of Lycian Xanthos. Listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it gave its name to all subsequent monumental tombs.

Leaders’ bodies are sometimes preserved to validate the godlike status they received — or bestowed upon themselves — while they were alive, and to justify the succession of power in places without elections. The body of Vladimir Lenin, displayed in this mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square, is still in good shape due to periodic makeovers by Russian scientists.

Embalming, in most modern cultures, is the art and science of temporarily preserving human remains (some may preserve for long-term) to forestall decomposition and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral. The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization, presentation and preservation (or restoration) of a corpse to achieve this effect. Embalming has a very long and cross-cultural history, with many cultures giving the embalming processes a greater religious meaning.

Among the bodies whose decay has been delayed for display is that of China founder Mao Tse-Tung, who ran that country from 1949 until his death in 1976. Despite his wish to be cremated, his body has for decades been on almost daily display in a crystal coffin at the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh died on September 2, 1969, at the age of 79 and his embalmed body was placed on display in a granite mausoleum copied from Lenin's tomb in Moscow. In Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square, the body of Ho Chi Minh — who served as North Vietnam’s president from 1945 to 1969 — is available for regular public viewings. His body was turned into a glorified tourist attraction despite the fact that he, too, reportedly asked in his will that he be cremated and his ashes spread over the hills of Vietnam because he felt that was “more hygienic than burial and would also save land for agricultural purposes.”

In the Philippines, the body of Ferdinand Marcos — dictator from 1965 to 1986 — has been on display since 1993 in a refrigerated crypt in Batac, Ilocos Norte, where the controversial leader in life has managed to stir up controversy years after his death.

Kim Jong Il became the latest in a short line of dead world leaders whose bodies have been preserved for permanent public display. Korean media outlets have reported that a dream team of Moscow-based embalmers, who usually tend Lenin’s body, were dispatched to North Korea to prepare the body.

Acting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced 08 March 2013 the decision of the country’s authorities to embalm Hugo Chávez's body and have it permanently placed in a glass case at the country's military history museum in Caracas for public viewing. Maduro said:"Chavez, like Lenin, or Mao Tse Tung, can be in a glass case and our people can see him forever.”

Klement Gottwald of Czechoslovakia, who died just five days after attending Stalin's funeral was embalmed and displayed in a mausoleum at the site of the Jan Žižka monument on Vítkov hill in Prague. However in 1962 due to a botched embalming, the body was decomposing and had to be removed and cremated. Bulgarian Georgi Dimitrov was embalmed and placed on display in the Sofia Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum. After the fall of Communism in Bulgaria, his body was buried in 1990 in the Central cemetery of Sofia. Mongolia's Khorloogiin Choibalsan, Angola's Agostinho Neto, and Guyana's Forbes Burnham were also embalmed by the same Russian team.

The botched embalming of Pius XII (1876 – pope 1939–1958) by a charlatan doctor—which only sped up the rate of decomposition—led to his body turning black and his nose falling off while lying in state, and the body disintegrated in the coffin. The Swiss Guards stationed around Pius XII's body were forced to change shifts every ten to fifteen minutes since the body's odor caused some guards to pass out.

Pope John XXIII, (1881 – pope 1958–1963) body is on display in an altar on the main floor of the Basilica of Saint Peter after having been exhumed from the grottoes beneath the main altar and has retained an extremely well preserved state. If a body's remains do not decompose, contrary to expectations, it is often treated as a miracle. However, the case of John XXIII's body did not enjoy the same acclamation, as it was held to have been due to embalming and adipocere formation.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 23-07-2018 13:46:06 ZULU