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Chinese Rites for the Repose of the Soul, with Special Reference to Cantonese Custom

Marjorie Topley

Edited by Jean DeBernardi

in Cantonese Society in Hong Kong and Singapore

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9789888028146
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206663 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789888028146.003.0003
Chinese Rites for the Repose of the Soul, with Special Reference to Cantonese Custom

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To the Chinese, the adaptation of the soul to its new and complex environment in hell is a matter of the primest importance. This hell is, in its administrative aspects, rather like another China “ploughed under,” with a similarly complicated system of rewards, punishments, and financial obligations on the part of the soul. Ransom payments must be made to the ruler of Hades to procure rebirth under circumstances most favourable for a successful and prosperous life; “squeeze” money must be given to judges, “pour boire” to hungry ghosts, and certificates owned to enable one to pass any barrier encountered on one's wanderings there. Paper houses, sedan chairs and automobiles, trunks of clothes, and other adjuncts to good living, together with quantities of mock money of various kinds must be burnt for its comfort, or what little comfort it can find between the almost continuous tortures suffered in the Chinese Hades.

Keywords: Chinese; soul; hell; rewards; punishments; ransom payments; pour boire; paper houses; Hades

Chapter.  5752 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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