Posthumous weddings, an ancient custom virtually wiped out after the communists took over in 1949, are being revived in the Chinese countryside, the official Farmers Daily said Monday.

The practice is supposed to ensure that people who die unmarried will have a partner in the afterlife.A reporter said he watched a "spirit wedding" on a recent visit to his hometown in Shanxi province northwest of Beijing. "Under this practice, a 70-year-old man can marry a 7-month old baby, or a young man can marry an old woman," he said.

One 65-year-old man was praised by fellow villagers for his foresight in setting aside his life savings of $567 to buy a female corpse. When he dies, the two will be "married" with a full ceremony and be buried together.

In a neighboring village, the parents of a 10-year-old girl refused to auction off her corpse to the family of a prospective posthumous groom. Her body was stolen three days after burial, the newspaper said.

"This posthumous marriage custom is one of the Six Evils which the government is trying to stamp out," the article said. "But it is reviving."

It falls under the heading of feudal superstition, one of the so-called Six Evils along with prostitution, gambling, drugs, pornography and the selling of women and children.