Police have arrested 11 people suspected of digging up a corpse and selling it for an ancient Chinese ritual known as a "ghost marriage," reported iqilu.com on Thursday.
One of the suspected grave-robbers confessed to excavating a female corpse in Tianqiao county, in East China's Shandong province, which had been buried for three months. The suspect claimed to have sold it for 18,000 yuan (S$3,788).
A Chinese superstition holds that bad luck will strike a family if an unmarried member is buried in the family cemetery rather than buried with their life partner.
This belief has led to so-called ghost marriages between dead people in some rural areas in China. In these cases, a male corpse is buried with a female body so they may have a companion in the afterlife.
Suspects took advantage of the tradition and came up with the idea of stealing dead body for profit.
"For the corpse, the fresher it is,the more valuable. A body buried for years is worthless," said a suspect surnamed Wang.
The female body finally ended up in Wu'an city, in North China's Hebei province, with a price of 38,000 yuan, the investigation said.
Excavating and selling corpse is a crime in China. The case is under investigation.