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When someone died in an apartment it's customary for the relatives to build a ramp passage with bamboo poles and planks of wood leading down to the street where the funeral prossession would take place.
I guess it had had its practical use as the Chinese style coffins wouldn't possible go through the narrow staircase of the houses back in those days. I also tend to believe back then, when somebody dies, they would have some traditional rituals to be performed at home before moving to the cemetory.
There's some more about this topic over here.
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