Where Decommissioned Spaceships Get A Sky Burial

Illustration for article titled Where Decommissioned Spaceships Get A Sky Burial

In the world of Wayne Haag’s Ankaris, ship breakers realize that the vehicles they dismantle may have once been sentient beings, so they treat their mechanical charges as they would human bodies, providing the ships with funeral rites.


Haag is a concept artist who has worked on The Fifth Element, Farscape, and the first two Lord of the Rings movies. Ankaris is his personal project, which he is hoping to turn into a book featuring his paintings and short stories. Here’s what Haag told us over email about the project and this piece in particular, “Sky Burial #3”:

The original seeds of the idea were formed around the mid 90’s when I was completing my final year photography portfolio. The tibetan man standing with his ‘converse’ boots in SkyBurial #3 is based on a photograph I saw in a National Geographic magazine in 1989. I knew I would incorporate this kind of character into a SF painting one day.

The story is about the people involved in ship breaking, much as we see in places like Alang, India, except this is on a much larger scale and about old spacecraft instead of sea going vessels. The mysterious thing about some of these old craft is that they don’t all come from the same dimension of space time we come from. This leads to a variety of material found in the holds of the ships for people to find and somewhere in this vast planet sized field of wrecks is a fully functional, sentient A.I. which most consider to be a conspiracy theory. This doesn’t stop folks from looking however!

The planet is arid and cold, not unlike the high altitude environments on earth like Tibet or North India and one of the reasons Tibetans, Nepalese etc have migrated, been exiled to this planet.

The titles of my paintings, Sky Burial #1 to 3 (so far) is directly representative of the Tibetan practice of burying the dead. These guys understand that perhaps every ship they break apart may have been a sentient living being and thus perform the requisite buddhist rituals.

Not every part of every ship is torn down, many are used as housing, storehouses for food and water or even fortresses!


You can also purchase Haag’s Ankaris work from his shop.

Spotted on Concept Ships.

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Humans can survive seemingly anywhere... Even places we would not willing be or go. A pleasantly cool but dry desert planet. It was a world where it was very comfortable in the shade and most days the direct suns (plural) plight was not too bad. But desperately little free water.

In this small city of built up from junk and scrap, Humans continue to earn the boast, “survivors of almost anything and anyplace” and the derogative, “[Vermin] you find almost anywhere your aren’t and would not want to be”.

I was sent here to see what, if anything, humans knew of a planet in the Turrsial Galaxy, what their ancestors called The Milky Way. This was a naturally ideal world for most common forms of g-class lifeforms, like humans.

My job was to find out where this planet was. I was given the impression it was their ancestral homeworld. These humans might not even remember it exists except in legend or myth. They would born out here, seeded by numerous, more advanced, rather irresponsible, races. I don’t expect much but the most cursory indications where to look next.

I hope it will not be like the Enigar. The regime forces set their planet alight because the Enigar were extremely capable telepaths and telekinetics and posed a vague threat to the regime. But Human are mostly harmless... But they easily survive and even thrive almost anywhere we aren’t and would rather not be...