Ghost Marriages among the Singapore Chinese

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:
Ghost Marriages among the Singapore Chinese

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There is a form of ghost marriage which exists among the Singapore Chinese and is known as Yin Ch'u (Ts'u)[Yinqu]. This takes place at a ceremony or group of ceremonies at which two deceased peersons, or more rarely, one living and one deceased, are married. Such forms of marriage appear to be more common among the Cantonese than other dialect groups, although there are marriages being arranged for members of Straits-born Hokkien families. However, the Cantonese are certainly quite open about the fact that they perform them, whereas the Hokkiens have been most reluctant to admit it. Ghost marriages appear to take place for several reasons: to acquire a grandson after the death of the son of the family; to acquire a living daughter-in-law after the death of an unmarried son, when a younger son wishes to marry and his elder brother has died before taking a wife.

Keywords: ghost marriage; Singapore Chinese; Yin Ch'u; ceremony; deceased persons; Hokkiens

Chapter.  1790 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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