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Beheading Practices Around the World: Asia

In Asia, execution methods that centered on the removal of a victim’s head took place in China, Pakistan, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. Some of the practices were connected to religious beliefs, while others were influenced by other cultures. In this article, you will learn about some of the instances that took place in Asian countries that used beheadings and decapitation as a form of punishment.

In China, beheading was a harsher form of punishment than some others, such as strangulation. In accordance to Confucian tradition, the body was a gift from your parents and it was disrespectful to your ancestors if you returned their bodies to the grave in a dismembered state.

The Chinese had a handful of ways that the body could be cut and dismembered. Before the early Qing dynasty, some criminals were punished by being cut at the waist. This method was abolished because it caused a prolonged death. Similar to the English’s punishment of quartering, the Chinese had their version where they dismembered the body by cutting it into multiple pieces.

In Pakistan, non-Muslim soldiers were beheaded by Pathan women during the Anglo-Afghan Wars that took place in the North-West Frontier Province of British India , which is now known as modern day Pakistan. This method of execution affected the British and Sikhs in the region. In the 21st century, beheadings were used in Pakistan to scare the local population. It has been a method of punishment for political opponents, criminals and spies in the northwest region of Pakistan.  It was not uncommon to find the severed heads of government officials left in plain view on the street corners of popular streets. In 2010, the Taliban had beheaded three Sikhs.

In Korea, beheadings were known as the most common method of execution until the government preferred to hang their criminals. This change came about in 1896. The executioners were professionals called “Mangnani”, but they came from the lowest class of people.

Beadings in Southern Thailand have been documented in 2005. There have been at least 15 cases where Buddhists lost their heads to what officials believed was part of a South Thailand Muslim movement that wanted to separate the south end part from the rest of Thailand.

Beheadings Victims in Asia

A few notable Asians that met their fate by beheading or decapitation include:

”¢    In 1839, Columba Kim and Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert were beheaded for being Christian in Korea.
”¢    In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl was beheading in 2002.
”¢    In China, Guan Yu was executed by Sun Quan during civil war. His son, Guan Ping, was executed during the same time.
”¢    A Chinese scholar and general named Wen Tianxiang was beheaded in 1283.
”¢    Empress Dowager Cixi was responsible for executing Tan Sitong and five others in 1898. The well-known Chinese politician, thinker and revolutionist who was active during the late Qing Dynasty refused to conform.