Ahzoh wrote:I did not think about funerary wake lasting three, and I don't remember any of the funerals I've been to lasting more than a day, who would wait three days?
When and where I was growing up in the South, in some black churches funerals typically lasted three days. So they wanted a very thorough embalming.
My father was a pathologist; he was the Coroner for Miller County Arkansas, and the County Medical Examiner for Bowie County Texas.
He was also one of the most active laymen in the white Protestant churches, and one of the white laymen most often invited to participate in black church services.
Autopsies were usually performed at the funeral homes. Pathologists and morticians had to co-operate. The morticians had to be careful not to destroy any evidence the pathologist needed, at least not until the pathologist had seen it; and the pathologist had to be careful not to disfigure the body's bones and external flesh in such a way that the mortician couldn't replace or hide it. So usually his "diener" was one of the morticians.
For these and other reasons he knew about the funerary customs of the various sub-communities around metropolitan Texarkana.
For instance, Jews wanted the body buried as quickly as possible. You can see in Genesis that they thought like that millenia ago; and I think it's even written down as God's commandment somewhere in the Hebrew Bible (probably Leviticus or Deuteronomy, maybe Numbers, I admit I don't know where).
White churches, or at least most of them, had the funerals sooner and faster than the black churches (for the most part), but not as soon or as fast as the synagogues (for the most part). So they tended to need more embalming than the synagogues but not as much as the black churches.
Of course some Protestant churches have very definite "views" about funerals that others don't. Some prefer cremation; some prohibit it, or nearly so. Some don't like expense or "fanciness" at the funeral or at the monument (the cemetary's grave-marker). Some, like Catholic churches, like a lot of religious statuary around the monument.
We had some Mormons in town, but I don't know that we had enough of them for my father to ever have autopsied any of them. Or maybe they just managed not to die in any way that left medical or legal or other questions. (I say "other" because he did autopsy a cropduster pilot; the FAA requires a complete autopsy of both plane and pilot whenever there's a fatal crash. That's not really a medical question like "what on earth kind of disease killed this patient?", nor a legal question like "was this guy murdered?", but its a question that requires an autopsy.)
AFAICR we never had any Muslims in town while I was there.
I remember some Jehovah's Witnesses.
I remember some Sikhs.
Again, AFAICR, none of them were ever autopsied.
Maybe they will get someone to "prepare" the body by removing the intestines, maybe replace it will salts and other preservatives, and stitch it back up after it is done…
That's a big part of what mummification is.
I gather your people don't actually want the corpse to last and last and last.
If arable land is at a premium they might want to make sure the fleshy parts of the body will turn to earth in two years or less -- maybe even one year or less.
They may have the custom of digging up the corpse after two years and just saving the bones in a monument, and re-using the grave for the next funeral.
The box they put the corpse in to have its flesh turned to earth would be called a "flesh-eater" or "sarco-phagus". The box they save the bones in would be called an "ossuary".
If they start running out of room to save the bones, they might sort them by type of bone rather than by who they're the bones of.
I only imagined that family members and friends would gather at the bedside watching as the person lays dying and that as soon as they did, the family members would begin painting as soon as the person died without hesitation, but what then if someone dies unexpectedly and you came to know about only three hours later or even three days later? It would need to be preserved...
If you're there when they die you'll notice right away that their sphincters have let loose. You'll want to wash them and their bedding and move them to some hard surface that you can sanitize afterward and won't ever use for any purpose where you really need it to be really sanitary. It's unlikely that just one person can do that without assistance.
Anyway, as soon as they're washed and dried, you could start painting them. That would make sense.
If you find them before there's any risk that trying to move them around will pull their flesh from their bones or their skin from their flesh or whatever -- before their flesh starts to soften -- then you'll probably want to wash them just as you would have if you'd been there at the time; and painting them might still be in order.
You might just poke a hole in their gastro-intestinal tract to let out the gaseous and liquid contents. Or you might want to go further; fill their stomachs and intestines with something that will keep everything from getting any stinkier and keep it from getting any bloatier. You might do that through their mouth and/or anus, or you might poke a hole in the front or back or side, or any combination of those ideas.
Face it -- a corpse is a very large waste-disposal problem for an average single-family household. Some industrial operations regularly handle bigger waste-disposal problems, but the average everyday one-family household doesn't.
The family may have a smokehouse where they preserve meat and/or other food by smoking it. They may decide to do that with the corpse.
I can see major problems with that idea.
First, you can be careful that the meat you smoke was healthy until you killed it, and that you killed it in a sanitary way. But you have no control over what killed the corpse; and it is even likelier to be something that could also kill you.
Second, the point of smoking meat (or other food) is that it won't rot; insects and microbes and so on won't "eat" it, so it will last at least more than a season (usually more than a year). But you've already said (or, at least, I thought you said) that your people don't want the corpse to last too long.
IMO it's an intriguing problem.
Think they might lacquer or shellac the corpse? Or varnish it? or something?