Random thoughts... Happy Thoughts... Sad thoughts... Anything goes!!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Paper money for the dead

Just came from the wake of our founder. Stayed there a really long time that I had a chance to roll and fold those money paper you burn. One of the people there said that they burn these papers every 6 hours and they have to make them in between. Actually they buy the different papers which are folded and burned.
  • one set had 2”x 2” silver patch in the middle; another had an orange color brushed with the silver patch making it turn gold; still a darker paper had silver patch of 1”x 1” in the middle; all these are stamped with the deceased’s name (in Chinese characters), rolled and folded at the ends and you have to make sure that there are no cuts or tears, these are supposed to be paper money which the deceased will bring (baon) in his next life, someone even said that these are like time deposit and you can only use them after 3 years… but that came from someone who just heard it from someone else. Oh they said that you really have to stamp the name to make sure that they don’t go to someone else;
  • There’s also another paper with a print of people (can’t make out what they are doing) with gold patch which you also roll and fold, they say that this is an offering for the gods, that is why you don’t stamp any name in it.
  • Also did a different fold for the silver patched paper. It was an elaborate kind of fold. Someone said it was a “boat” and that kind of money can be used immediately. The fold was a bit difficult and you had to have light hands to make sure you don’t tear them so that one of the guys helping asked if he can’t just fold using the fold we do when making paper boats. He actually tried one and it looked different. These paper they call boats don’t really look like boats since they are inverts. They kept saying boat and they said it is faster to use than the other folded papers that I was wondering why not make a paper plane instead since that’s definitely faster than a boat. Just then the daughter came to demonstrate again how it was done and said that they are bullions (gold bars!!!) and she even showed how to stack them up… Ahhh that’s why they don’t really look like boats.. because they are not meant to be boats! It made more sense that you use bullions to trade than boats!!!
While we were folding these papers, some people came carrying a huge red paper castle. It was made of Japanese paper and bamboo sticks. It was huge, about 3 meters in length and full of details including cutout of people who’ll be serving him in the afterlife and even cars and other amenities and appliances. That’s going to be his home in the afterlife! The contractors even placed Christmas lights (200 lights I think) on this paper castle so that it was very attractive. They even brought a paper airplane around 1 meter in length and an elaborate carriage. I heard that the daughter was also asking for a paper boats.

Based on the past Filipino-Chinese funerals I’ve attended, they burn this on the last day in the cemetery together with the paper money.

Many of the people helping out to do those papers and admiring the paper castles and vehicles don’t really know what they are really for. They just tell you what they have heard from someone else who has also heard it from someone else. I guess the only people that really know are those that sells these and those people you hire to help you follow the Chinese burial tradition.

ahh... even in death, things could be complex for a Fil-Chinese, good thing I am not Tsinoy!


Post a Comment

<< Home