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___ Joss Paper
Joss Paper, also known as ghost or spirit money, are sheets of paper that are burned in traditional Chinese deity or ancestor worship ceremonies during special holidays. Joss paper is also burned in traditional Chinese funerals.
|Joss paper is traditionally made from coarse bamboo paper, although rice paper is also commonly used. Traditional joss is cut into individual squares or rectangles. Each square of paper has either a thin piece of square foil glued to its centre or it may be endorsed with a red ink seal from a traditional Chinese seal. The colour of the paper is white, white colour representing mourning, the square foil normally has a golden or silver metal shade and hence representing wealth or money, leading to the name ghost or spirit money. Another appearance form of joss paper is "gold paper", shaped like ingots or towers.
When burning the joss paper, the sheets are treated as real money: they are not casually tossed into the fire, but instead placed respectfully in a loose bundle. Alternatively in some customs, each joss paper sheet may be folded in a specific way before being tossed into the fire. This practice is an extension of the belief that burning real money brings bad luck.
The joss paper is folded in half, or folded into a shape of a gold ingot before being burned in an earthenware pot or a specially built chimney. Joss paper burning is usually the last performed act in Chinese deity or ancestor worship ceremonies and at funerals it is the last ceremony before the deceased is lowered into the ground.
Note that incense sticks are sometimes called joss sticks.
In Taoist rituals, the practice of burning joss paper to deities or ancestors is acceptable.
SPIRIT MONEY, HELL MONEY, PAPER OBJECTS
In order to ensure that ancestors or ghosts have proper items in the afterlife, their relatives send them paper and papier-mâché presents. The burning of the spirit money and paper objects allows for the object to be transferred to the ancestors and ghosts, materialising in the afterlife and even increase in value.
Note that according to Chinese belief all who die will automatically enter the underworld of Diyu to be judged before either being sent to heaven, to be punished in the underworld, or to be reincarnated. The word ‘hell’ is not to be compared with the western understanding of the word, but rather as ‘Chinese afterlife in general’, a more neutral platform.
The bank notes can be printed in various styles, i.e. showing currencies like the Chinese Yuan, US Dollar, Thai Baht or Vietnamese Dong.
Paper objects aiding the ancestors’ move include paper passports, flight-, rail- and bus tickets, all can be paid by paper credit cards, of course preferred as platinum or gold cards. Daily items such as a rice cooker, dishes, a flash lamp, a fan, TVs, entertainment equipment and such alike can be found as well.
Paper objects, such as clothing, jewellery, mobile phones, accessories, cars including a liveried chauffeur, lavish models of paper villas with manicured gardens, home interiors, medicine, fancy foods and liquors, cosmetics and others, should be extravagant, luxurious and will most likely be showing a high end brand name of an earthly company; simply speaking: the more expensive- the better. The ancestors will be given all the luxuries that were eluded in life.
Ancestor worship is a religious practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living.
Spirit money and objects are used as a symbol of transformation, by burning the money and objects they increase in value, and serve as a payment of spiritual debts.
The deceased family member uses this money to pay down the remainder of his debt to be able to obtain a body and fate to pursue its karmic journey.
Photo © Valeska Gehrmann
Spirit money featuring the Jade Emperor.
Photo © Valeska Gehrmann
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|The Joss Paper page was last modified on: Sunday, 10-Feb-2013 05:27:01 CET|
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