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At Home and in the FieldEthnographic Encounters in Asia and the Pacific Islands$
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Suzanne S. Finney, Mary Mostafanezhad, Guido Carlo Pigliasco, and Forrest Wade Young

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824847593

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824847593.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

“Papa! What’s Money?”

“Papa! What’s Money?”

An Enduring Question Finds Answers in Burning It for the Spirits of the Dead in China

(p.285) “Papa! What’s Money?”
At Home and in the Field

C. Fred Blake

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores the nature of value in ancient Chinese spiritual practices of burning paper replicas of valuable things—most often money—for the spirits of deceased family ancestors. Paper money (zhĭqián) is used as the central motif in this discussion. It refers to paper replicas of things that take the form of money plus all the things that money can buy. Furthermore paper money is an integral part of local Chinese customs and ritual practices. Thus the chapter examines how discourse on the value of money can reveal the “bigger questions” implicit in becoming human, by exploring the particular rituals of Yu County—whose citizens traditionally engage in the paper-cutting craft to augment their income from agriculture.

Keywords:   paper money, zhĭqián, China, Yu County, burning paper, Chinese spiritual practices, paper cutting

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