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Burning MoneyThe Material Spirit of the Chinese Lifeworld$
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C. Fred Blake

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835323

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835323.001.0001

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(p.117) Chapter 6 Sacrifice
Burning Money

C. Fred Blake

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the structures of the lifeworld in which the consecrative handling of the papers is concerned with producing value, a thing of value, in the form of a sacrifice. More specifically, it considers what is actually sacrificed in burning paper money by focusing on the experience of consecrating—touching, handling, folding—the paper for the flames. Drawing on anthropology and phenomenology, the chapter explains how the paper money custom allows persons, mainly women, to make a true sacrifice, not of paper per se, or of blood per se, but of toil per se. It also looks at the social relations in the work of folding paper money as well as the variety of shapes of folded paper treasures. It argues that the sacrifice of paper replicas of valuable things becomes the keystone in the canonical structure and historical function by the way it structures the lifeworld in acts of valuation: consecration and consummation.

Keywords:   lifeworld, value, sacrifice, paper money, paper-money burning, Chinese custom, social relations, folding, consecration, consummation

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