Wednesday, August 10, 2011


The many curious customs of the Chinese have ,'jeen a constant source of wonder and amusement to the tourist in China. By far the oddest but most impressive of their ceremonies, is the burial rites for their dead. The Chinese hold their dead in high esteem, and shower honors upon their memories by burning incense and candles daily. They also honor their relatives who have died I*—"" before. As soon as a Chir bis relatives embalm him. Dre? -v. in his richest garments, he is placed in a teakwood coffin, solid and airtight, and the coffin is closed and sealed. It is i/hen placed in front of the family altar. This altar is Irung with richly embroidered drapeiies, and decorated with flowers, vases, and josses. The period of mourning begins at once, especially among the women of the deceased's household. They start a daily ■larr.entation over their loss, and iare joined in their occupation of wailing by relatives and friends. The male members of the family are busy digging the grave, while the womenfolk, assist-ed by the professional mourners, do the wailing. The grave is half under and half above the ground, and is onclosed by a crescent-shaped wall about 2ft. high Another thing to be prepared for the dead is a miniature house, which is provided with miniature furniture. This idea is to provide the deopased with all the comforts of a home in the regions where be is ;2oing. An image of the deceased, together" with drinkables and eatables, and money, is placed on the coffin the day of the funeral. The image is not buried, but is burned in the presence of the mourners, who, during the process, shriek and make the most frightful noises. This is to drive out the evil spirit with which the dead man is supposed to be possessi-d. When tlie funeral services are over the mourning banners are taken home and used as ornaments on the bare, white-washed walls of the rooms. Th 4 mqiv the banners the greater the honor paid to the dead. The miniature house precedes the mourners to the grave. Then follows the elaborate hearse, draped with rich dark blue vehet, with silver fringes, borne by the natives. The mourners, too, arc supposed to assist in carrying it, which they do by holding on to che white cords attached to the hearse. Refreshments are served at the burial-ground, and at the end of the services tiie friends ami relatives partake of the food to show their appreciation.Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LXII, 16 October 1911, Page 5

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