Long Lives Well Lived

Huang Maliang, who is 104 years old, keeps a coffin in her house. Her two-year-old great-great-grandson plays on it, and Huang herself uses it as a rest stop on her slow journeys from the open-pit fire in the back of her house to the front porch. Other family members—seven Huangs, from five generations—share the huge, mud-brick dwelling. They aren't in the least troubled by the sight of the matriarch sitting atop the rough wooden box. And anyway, Huang says, lightly tapping the cover with her fingernails, "this one isn't for me. This is for my youngest son."

The...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!