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Police in China have arrested 11 men after it was discovered that they had desecrated a grave and sold the body for the purpose of an archaic ritual called “ghost marriage.”

The ritual essentially refers to a ceremony in which either two corpses or a woman is married to the corpse of a man.

It is an ancient superstition – more often practiced by the wealthy – that was the last refuge of desperate parents who saw it as a means of symbolically continuing their bloodline.

Although the practice has been long abandoned, there are certain people who still seem to believe in the superstition. That, in effect, has fuelled an underground trade for dead bodies.

According to the men who were arrested, they had dug up a grave in Shandong Province and sold the body to a middleman for 18,000 yuan (around $2,900).

The “ghost bride” was finally sold to an elderly villager from Hebei Province for 38,000 yuan (around $6,200).

However, not every corpse commands that sort of a price. According to the gang members, the fresher the corpse, the greater the value.

Watch this video for the chilling account of one of the suspects as he details the ugly business behind “ghost marriages.”

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