SCMP Tuesday, April 3, 2001

'Concubines' available for lonely deceased


Updated at 6.50pm:
The dearly departed can expect fashionable lives in the next world as relatives send them paper villas and concubines for the Qingming Festival this week, the Beijing-based Life Times reported.
Chinese people traditionally burn incense and offer their ancestors sacrifices on special occasions, particularly during the Qingming Festival, which falls on Thursday April 5 this year.
They usually burn paper money and clothes, in the hopes that the dead could have had these items during life.
Nowadays shops are selling fashionable items to cater to these wishes. Besides selling traditional paper-made treasure bowls, TV sets and cars, stores also are offering villas and "concubines'' this year, according to the newspaper.
A shop boss told Beijing Youth Daily that customers can purchase paper "girls'' and "bodyguards'' at his shop to provide company for the lonely deceased.
Some merchants are selling "money'' that looks like renminbi, but replaces images of Mao Zedong with the King of Hell, Beijing Evening News said.
Chinese people will spend about 16 billion yuan (about HK$14.56 billion) on offerings every year, according to news reports. Considering the large amount spent, the dead are living better than most people still alive, the Life Times concluded.