10. Separation from the Dead: A Case Study of Funeral Rites in a Teochiu Fishing Village in Malaysia

Kawasaki Yuzo


In multi-ethnic nations like Malaysia, religion is one of the key elements which divide ethnic groups. Even if they share a national language (that is bahasa Malaysia), religious differences cause ethnic groups to separate.[1] We may roughly classify the Malays as Muslims, the Indians as Hindus, and the Chinese as traditionally believing in a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.[2]
As for the Chinese people their religious activities are not oriented towards realisation of their beliefs through religious teachings and texts, but to getting merit by praying to the gods, ancestors and ghosts.[3] Chinese religion varies greatly in how much it depends on these supernatural beings. However funeral rites are a must for Chinese people. Presuming that the Chinese maintain their traditional beliefs, being Chinese is expressed by conducting Chinese style funeral rites rather than by speaking the Chinese language.[4]
Funeral rites are one of the ritual aspects of ancestor worship. Ancestor worship as conducted in traditional mainland Chinese society has a close connection with patrilineal descent groups. There are several studies which focus on the relation between ancestor worship and patrilineal descent groups in Taiwan and Hong Kong societies (e.g. Ahern, 1973; Baker, 1968). Even in Malaysian Chinese society which has few such descent groups, ancestor worship still has an important meaning in a household and among married brothers.
However based on the data I collected during my field research in "S" Village between 1980 and 1982, ancestors are worshipped for a time span of only two or three generations. In such circumstances the main function of ancestor worship is not to strengthen the solidarity of the household, but to express the origin of the household and to provide an occasion for reconfirming the transmission of the ethnic group's tradition from the parents' generation to the children's generation. In this paper I will describe the details of funeral rites in "S" Village and analyse their social meaning through the process of separation from the dead.

"S" Village is located on the coast of Sabak Bernam District, Selangor. There are nine Teochiu fishing villages in the district, in population size varying from a few hundred to a few thousand people. The population of S is of medium size, 1,046 people in 129 households. The economic activities of each household are as follows: ninety are involved in fishing; eight in agriculture; sixteen in commercial activities, including five fish dealers, six sundries shops, two coffee shops or restaurants, and three coconut dealers; and there are five labourers and ten in other occupations. In five of these cases, household heads live and work outside the village. In each of these villages certain surnames predominate. For example, in "S" Village the surname Chia predominates, with sixty-six households. There are also sixteen Tang, eleven Ng, eight Ong, seven Lu, six Chua, five Tei, five Pua, three Lin, one Tsang and one Ou. Many households have close patrilineal kin in the village, but thirty-nine households do not.
According to accounts of village elders and inscriptions on tombstones, we can safely say that "S" Village has at least sixty to seventy years of history. In the development of the village, cultural homogeneity has been well preserved. Even today over 95% of the household heads are Teochius and most of them are descendants of the earlier settlers who came from Guasua Sub-District in Tenghai District, Guangdong province. "S" Village is far from being a static community. In most cases "S" villagers do not own any land at all, and they can find few income sources other than from fishing, so that their economic development is oriented beyond the village. A large number of people continue to move out of the village, and most of those who move into the village are females marrying male villagers.
"S" Village is geographically isolated from other Teochiu fishing villages and culturally separated from neighbouring Malay villages. There is a Chinese primary school, Chinese shrines, and a cemetery, sundries shops and fishmongers, and a branch of the MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association). "S" Village can be seen as a clearly defined social unit in terms of its economic, religious and political aspects. Villagers have a strong consciousness of being the residents of "S" Village as well as Teochius.
Patrilineal relationships play significant roles in "S" Village, especially between married brothers. Even if they establish their own separate households, their alliance is so strong that we can regard these households as a loosely organised group. I have called this a "household group". But patrilineal relationships do not function beyond the range of patrilineal cousins. It is not patrilineal relationships but residential area, economic relations and affiliation with mutual aid associations which unite household groups (or single households) in pursuit of their interests.
Fish dealers play key roles in organising household groups. There are five groupings of household heads. Four of them are formed by fish dealers and the rest by a sundries shop owner whose younger brother is a fish dealer. These five people are distinguished from other villagers by
their influence. Men of influence have a tendency to move out of the village, because if their business is successful the small market in the village proves less than satisfactory and they are compelled to seek a larger market. Replacement of influential people is rather frequent.

The living, the dead and the ancestors

The living and the ancestors

Villagers are always living with their ancestors. Village ancestors occupy significant places in the village community. Villagers can communicate with their ancestors in the cemetery and at the altar located in their households. The cemetery is placed at the edge of the village, so usually villagers seldom go into the cemetery but pass it by. They pay attention to the cemetery only when a burial or Qingming festival is conducted there. In fact the cemetery is almost always covered with weeds and its existence is forgotten by the villagers in their everyday life.
In contrast to the cemetery, ancestors symbolised by the incense pots at their household altar are always cared for by the villagers. The significance of the household altar is shown by the physical structure of the household. The fundamental structure of households consists of five components, namely a guest room, bedrooms, a kitchen, a toilet and shower room, and a storeroom. The combination of these five components varies, but a guest room is always the focal point of any type of household. A guest room is the most public place in the household and open to the people of other households. The doorway of a guest room is the boundary between the household and the outside world. Household altars are placed facing the doorway. So we can say that a household altar is the focal point for the members of the household and a feature of the household for outsiders. A household altar is the place where gods and ancestors co-exist. Gods are manifested by their images, pictures or Chinese characters, and ancestors by incense pots. The most popular god in "S" Village is Toapekong, who can be found in almost all the households.[5] Ancestral tablets cannot found in any of the households. In place of them, there are red papers on which kinship terms such as Akong (household head's father), Ama (household head's mother), Laokong (household head's grandfather), Laoma (household head's grandmother) or, in some cases, surnames of the household such as Chiakong, or Lukong are written. However, many incense pots lack this kind of red papers and each incense pot is designated for a particular ancestral couple, such as parents or grandparents. In addition to a household's head's parents and grandparents, his wife, former wife, wife's brother, wife's grandfather, mother's grandparents, elder brother, younger brother, brother's wife, and biological father (in the case of adoption) are worshipped at the household altars. It often happens that the wife's kin and mother's kin are also worshipped at the altar, when a household head lives with his wife's parents or resides in his mother's house.
Household members make offerings on the first day and the fifteenth day of each Chinese lunar month and on festival days. In one third of all the households, worship takes place at the altar every day involving burning incense. The guest room is the place where household members can rest and where they conduct ceremonies such as funerals and marriages. Also there are television sets, stereo record or cassette players, sofas, and family photos and certificates hung on the walls. In the marriage ceremony there is a ritual in which the bride and groom make tea for their relatives, who drink the tea and give angpao to the couple which signifies that they consent to the marriage. In such a case the guest room is the place where the new couple is recognised. We can say that the guest room is the public space which is consecrated to the altar of the gods and ancestors. In fact we can find a remarkable similarity between the guest room and the village shrine in the arrangement of altars and the instruments of worship.

Social meaning of funeral rites

Funeral rites are essentially rituals which symbolise the separation of the dead from their relatives. At the same time funeral rites are quite important ceremonies for the whole village community. Firstly funeral rites reconfirm the cultural tradition of the Teochiu people for the villagers. The ways in which the dead are treated, in which the relatives of the dead and the other participants perform, and the various things which are used symbolically for the ritual are essential components of Teochiu culture. The Teochiu people reconfirm their own culture, while non-Teochiu people learn about this culture on these occasions. The kongte (funeral drama) performed by members of a Teochiu funeral band is a dramatic representation of Teochiu culture for all the villagers.
Secondly funeral rites promote the integration of the the village community. In contrast to the participation in marriage ceremonies, which is optional, participation in funerals is obligatory for each household head. Consolation money is collected from nearly every part of the village and most of the households provide the relatives of the dead with labour. During the funeral rites the villagers stop many of their economic activities, and no fishermen go to sea. The villagers' concern focuses on the house of the dead person: communal activities are held around the house and the villagers sit around there. Influential people who have already moved away from the village but who still keep in contact with its members usually come back to the village to participate in funeral rites. In extreme cases funeral rites may lead to the temporary transfer of the core of the village community to the outside world. When the mother of Tong, an influential villager, died, most of the household heads stayed at Tong's elder brother's house in Bido, in Perak State, for a night.
Thirdly funeral rites clarify social relationships in the village. The social organisations most closely connected to funeral rites are the funeral mutual aid organisations.[6] These organisations do not form a distinctive framework for everyday life, but they play an important part in the funeral ceremony. In fact, except for the performance of the Teochiu funeral band, all the funeral rites are conducted by the relatives of the dead and these organisations. The various forms of assistance from the other villagers reflect the degree of intimacy which exists between them.
Fourthly funeral rites unite agnatic kin. Funeral rites are the heaviest duty for the descendants of the dead. At the same time they provide a rare opportunity for them to come together. At the marriage ceremony the relatives who take part in the ceremony extend to both sides of the bridegroom's family. His mother's kin participate as well as his father's kin. In some cases matrilateral kin outnumber patrilateral kin. So we can say that the marriage ceremony is conducted by the kindred centered on the bridegroom. However at the funeral ceremony participants are for the most part restricted to agnatic kin and their spouses. We may say that funeral rites are ceremonies primarily performed by the agnatic kin group. In fact funeral rites play a key role in strengthening alliances among agnatic kin. Still we must not forget that spouses of agnatic kin (for instance the dead person's daughter's husband) also play a particular role in the ceremony, so we cannot say that the funeral ceremony is conducted exclusively by agnatic kin.

The process of separation from the dead

It is appropriate for the analysis of the process of the separation from the dead that we classify participants in the funeral rites into categories such as the deceased, relatives of the deceased, the villagers, those who once lived in the village but now live outside, friends and acquaintances of the deceased or relatives of the deceased who live outside the village, and the band which performs during the funeral rites. The deceased is displayed in various ways at each stage of the process of separation. The relatives of the dead consist of the dead person's descendants and their spouses. If a husband dies his wife become the central figure within this group, but if a wife dies her husband plays almost no role in her funeral rites. Descendants of the dead person have a heavy duty to perform the funeral rites regardless of their sex, but their spouses have different roles depending on their sex. Some remote agnatic kin play a similar role to that of close kin,[7] but in many cases they only visit the house to express condolences. However their participation is much greater than that of the ordinary villagers. As members of the community the villagers perform their obligations through their relationships with the households directly concerned with the funeral. Each of the villagers has their own unique relationship with the particular household where funeral rites are being conducted or with the households of the descendants of the dead, and their commitment to the rites varies greatly depending on these relationships. Those who are the members of the same mutual aid association for funerals have closer connections. Those who have already moved away from the village sometimes come back to the village when the kongte ceremony is conducted. On those occasions they can re-establish social relations with their old friends and connections with the village. In addition to the villagers, the friends and acquaintances of the dead assist the relatives of the dead. The relationship between the relatives of the dead and the funeral rites band is a contractual one. The band plays a central role only at the kongte ceremony and the burial. The membership of these funeral bands is not fixed, but the same band comes together several times in a year.

At first glance, it seems that the kongte ceremony is the central part of the funeral rites, but the process as shown in Figure 1 has an important meaning as a whole. The everyday life of the village is interrupted by the death of a villager. The house where the dead person lives is immediately transformed from the house of the living to that of the dead. The villagers' concern focuses on the house of the dead and household heads cease their regular work and come around to the house (the shift from A to A' in the diagram). The relatives of the dead recognise the sad reality when they come face to face with the dead person. During this time, they begin their separation from the dead. The dead body is watched over by the relatives and the members of the mutual aid association through the night. The next day when a coffin arrives, the relatives carry out a ceremony before putting the body in the coffin. After that the relatives cannot see the body of the dead person any more, so this is the second stage in the process of separation from the dead. After this the dead person is represented by the coffin.
After the body is placed in the coffin, the relatives make preparations for the kongte ceremony, and collect consolation money from villagers, ex-villagers, friends and acquaintances. The kongte ceremony is conducted by the relatives and a funeral band, and other participants become spectators of the ceremony. In the kongte ceremony the dead person is carried symbolically by the relatives from this world to the other world. This is the third stage in the separation of the dead. The next day, before the funeral procession, a ceremony is performed by the relatives, villagers, friends and acquaintances. The coffin is carried to the cemetery in a long procession and is buried by the relatives and villagers. The funeral procession and burial are the fourth stage in the separation of the relatives from the dead. But for the villagers participation in the burial ceremony is the only ritual which separates them from the dead. After the burial the villagers' lives return to normal (the shift from D to D').
However some aspects of the ordinary lives of the relatives return to normal, but they still have to observe mourning restrictions for a hundred days. The members of the household of the dead person, especially, do not revert to their ordinary lives, but they still keep a symbol of the dead person in the house: the body is in the the cemetery, but at the same time it is embodied by a chair (sometimes with the clothes of the dead person hung over it), a photograph, or a temporary incense pot in the guest room of the house. During these hundred days of the mourning period the relatives periodically come together at the dead person's house and perform rituals. Other villagers do not participate in those rituals at all. After the rites which signify the completion of a hundred days of mourning, the relatives are finally separated from the dead person, who is formally installed at the household altar and tomb for the first time. The ancestor is represented by the tomb and the incense pot. The relatives can at last go back to their ordinary lives (the shift from E to E').
We can say that these rituals represent the transformation of a dead person into an ancestor, passing through the transitional stages between the living and the ancestors. During this period, the relatives are also in a transitional stage, quite different from everyday life. In contrast to the relatives who have a close connection with the world of the dead, other villagers have no more connection with the dead after the funeral procession. The villagers' main contribution to the relatives of the dead is help with money and labour. Their participation in the funeral ceremony is limited to worship for the dead before the funeral procession and during the funeral procession itself. For the other villagers, only the living are significant in their social lives. Those who do not have kinship relations with the dead act as outsiders at the burial. Therefore from death to the burial we can find that the social integration of the village community is strong, centered on the household of the dead, but during the mourning period the household of the dead is isolated in the village community. It looks rather like a black hole in space which draws the vital power of the relatives of the dead to the world of the dead within the dynamic world of the village community. The dead person is installed as an ancestor for the relatives at the completion of the mourning period: then they sever their relations with the world of the dead and return to the house of the living where the living and the ancestors coexist and participate in the normal village life.

From death to burial

I will describe funeral rites based on my own participant observation in five cases, those of (1) Sui, 61 years old; (2) Pin's mother, 87 years old; (3) Tong's mother, 74 years old; (4) Kun's wife, 50 years old; (5) You's father, over 70 years old.
We find several differences in details between these cases, so I take the third case, which I could observe most fully, as the primary case and refer to the other cases when necessary necessary. In "S" Village old customs are not always preserved in their complete form. As is the case with funeral rites, villagers' knowledge of the ritual is sometimes vague, so we cannot find ideal instances in which all the details are formalised. I would like to describe the common framework of the funeral rites shared by these cases.

From death to placing the body in the coffin

Preparations for death: In some cases death comes suddenly, but sometimes the living move towards the world of the dead more gradually. If the villagers can anticipate the death of their kin in the near future, as is the case with old people, the person concerned is moved to the house of one of the descendants, usually that of the eldest son, in anticipation of actual death. For example Tong's mother usually lived with Gui (Tong's younger bother), but when her condition became serious, she was sent to the house of Bun, Tong's eldest brother.
In "S" Village medical care is not fully institutionalised, and some people who live a normal life until a few days before becoming ill are sent to the hospitals in the large towns and die after only a few days. For example both Sui and Kun's wife were sent to the hospital in Kuala Lumpur only a day before they died. In these cases the bodies are put in the coffins at the hospital and the coffins are sent back to the village. In Sui's case his coffin was taken to an empty house owned by Huzhubu, a mutual aid association concerned with funerals. In the case of Kun's wife, the coffin was taken to a building belonging to the Haisan Konghui, the fishermen's organisation in Sungai Besar where many of Kun's relatives have settled.
Facing death: After confirmation of the death by a doctor the corpse is laid out in the guest room (see Figure 2). The relatives of the dead comb the hair of the corpse and wash its face. When the deceased is a woman, the hairpin which she used is passed on to the eldest son's wife. The body is dressed in black trousers with a blue jacket and blue gown for the upper part of the body. The head is covered with a black cap tied with a pearl. The pillow on which the head is placed is a pile of golden paper money.[8] The bed on which the corpse is laid has a mattress with a white cloth laid over it. The corpse is laid there, and a white cloth (or sometimes paper) and a narrower red cloth are put over the body. At this time the relatives of the dead begin the separation from the dead. That means they cannot communicate with the dead in the same way as with the living. The house of the living is transformed into that of the dead, and the living elements in the guest room are all removed.[9] The household altar, the plate on which the name of the place of origin is written, and the small shrine shelf are all covered with white paper or cloth.[10] Everything which does not have a connection with the dead is taken from the guest room. Afterwards the relatives of the dead make preparations for the funeral rites. Firstly they must make mourning clothes for themselves, secondly they must order a coffin, and thirdly they must ask for a funeral band to help with the ritual. Those who have close relationships with the house of the dead person and have wide knowledge of the ritual may help the relatives. Coffins cannot be obtained in the nearby towns and sometimes they have to go to a distant town to purchase an appropriate coffin.[11] A funeral band sometimes comes from a nearby town, and in some cases from a distant area like Penang Island. The news of a villager's death goes around the village immediately and the villagers come to the house of the dead. The visitors are almost always household heads, and women seldom visit unless they are friends or relatives of the deceased. The visitors sit in threes and fives on the veranda, where they begin to play mah-jong and cards. From a distance, in contrast to the serenity of the guest room where the body of the dead is placed, the villagers on the veranda or in front of the house seem simply to enjoy themselves playing games.

In front of the bed of the deceased are placed white candles which are used only for the dead, and a mass of paper money. The relatives of the dead make frequent offerings for the dead by burning incense and paper money. Paper money can be sent to the dead only by burning it. The action of burning is one of the means which the living have of communication with the dead. The relatives of the dead who live outside the village come to the house of the dead after hearing the news of the death. Children and grandchildren should confront the body as soon as possible. Those who live in remote areas hurry to the house. In one case, on hearing the news, a daughter of the deceased came to the house of the dead: she was in a state of shock at hearing the news. She was unable to stay standing at the doorway, but knelt down, and crawled to the bed on which the body was lying crying profusely. She cried as if she could communicate with her dead mother. Confronting the dead body is a shocking experience for the relatives of the dead person, as it is at this time that they have to recognise the reality of death even if they have already heard the news. After making offerings for the dead, the relatives sit around the bed and look into the face of the corpse in turn. At this time even male relatives cry loudly. Some relatives grip the hands of the corpse and some massage its arms and feet. Confronting the body is the first stage of the process of separation from the dead: indeed, we can say that is the beginning of the separation.
Those who were unable to witness the moment of death hear the details from the relatives who were there. This is the duty of the relatives and they tirelessly repeat the same story to others when they come to the house. After confronting the corpse, the relatives recover their composure and begin to make preparations for the funeral rites. Even the task of making mourning clothes takes a night. One after another, the relatives change their clothes, but some of them are not ready to put on the proper mourning dress until the funeral rites.
Tongxiao: The first ritual after death is the wake or tongxiao (lit. "watching through the night").[12] The funeral mutual aid associations are closely linked with this ritual. They have to keep watch for the dead without sleeping, and at the door there is a table on which the names of the people on duty are written.[13] During the night the relatives burn paper money continuously, and there is an infernal smell from the smoke, dust and ashes, and from the body, throughout the guest room.
Laying the body in the coffin: In the case I witnessed, the next day when a coffin was brought to the house, the villagers placed it in the area in front of the house. Since the coffin was very heavy, more than ten adult males had to work together with logs and ropes. The ceremony prior to putting the body in the coffin was performed by the relatives. On the empty coffin there were placed paper money, pin (rice cakes), two red candles and three incense sticks, two cups of tea, zhongzi, and more paper money in that order.[14] Zhongzi consists of a piece of paddy, biscuits and a senshu twig, and it is covered with a white cloth and hemp string. It is used as a symbol of life at the funeral ceremony.[15] The ceremony was carried out as follows:
The eldest son (or the eldest son's eldest son) made offerings to the empty coffin from top and bottom. The relatives stood at the side of the house and rubbed the coffin from head to foot with the zhongzi three times, one by one, after which the zhongzi was thrown away.[16] At the same time, the relatives begin to cry. The relatives carried out a ceremony of separation from the corpse on the bed. The red and white cloths which covered the body were taken away and two white bags (containing paper money) connected with string were put on the central part of the body, one each on the left and right side. An open white fan was put by the feet with the bottom pointing towards the head of the corpse. The relatives entered the house and knelt at the right side of the body and put senshu into the lidless pot, which contained water. They rubbed the body with the diluted senshu from head to foot three times one by one, during which most of them continued to cry. A villager who had a profound knowledge of ritual poured the water into the pot at the corner of the guest room. The relatives rubbed the body with the white fan from head to foot three times one by one, in the same way as before.
Then the body was laid in the coffin. This was done mainly by the villagers. Most of the relatives only looked on. When they open the lid of the coffin they found black paper inside. They threw in twenty or thirty bundles of paper money (golden or silver). They used large pieces of paper to cover the inside of the coffin, with smaller pieces laid on top. Next they put in more paper money. The body with the cloth laid below it was transferred to the coffin. Again they put in masses of gold and silver paper money. The body lay surrounded with the paper and paper money, and could not be seen once the lid was put on. This was the last chance for the relatives to see the corpse's face. Again, some relatives cried.
After the lid was closed it was sealed with coal tar and white tapes. Small red cloths were placed at the corners of the lid and pegged in place.[17] Now no one could see the corpse, and from this point on only the coffin showed the existence of the dead. So we can say that this is the second phase in the separation of the relatives from the dead.

Rituals after laying the body in the coffin.

The ritual performed by the funeral bands: At night kongte is performed by the relatives, led by the funeral band.[18] Usually kongte is performed for one or two nights. Among the cases I observed in the village, it was only in Chuan's case that kongte was not conducted at all. The villagers said that they could not perform kongte at Chuan's house because it was too small. But the reasoning was superficial. I suspect that the economic burden of the ritual was too heavy for the relatives of Chuan to bear, as his household was poor, his children were not yet earning money, and there were few agnates and cognates who could support them. In fact the cost of the kongte varies greatly depending on what kind of ceremony they perform. There are some cases in which relatives disagree over the kind of kongte they should perform. However most of the relatives do not know the details of the ritual, and they only act as directed by the members of a funeral band. The essentials of the ritual are almost the same between funeral bands but the details vary a lot. The clothes of the relatives at this ritual are strictly prescribed. Kinship categories such as sons, daughters, sons' wives, and grandchildren have corresponding types of mourning dress. For example in the case of Tong's mother's death the relatives wore the types of clothes shown in Table 1. Of the sons, only the eldest son wore an undershirt which differed from that of the other sons.[19] This fact indicates that the eldest son is a unique position during the course of the ritual. The daughters wear the same mourning dress regardless of whether they are married or not. This fact suggests that even if they have married out, the heavy obligation of mourning their parents does not change at all.

Table 1. Mourning Dress for Relatives







hemp cloth


clothing of deceased


Sons' wives

white cloth


clothing of deceased



white cloth


white cloth


Daughters' husbands

white cloth


*white cloth


Sons' children

hemp cloth


blue cloth


***Wives of grandchildren

blue cloth


**blue cloth


Daughters' children

blue cloth




* or black or blue
** or white or black
***Fiancees wear red patches on blue caps

The relatives and the members of the funeral band make preparations for kongte in the open space in front of the house. Beautiful cloths, on which is written the Chinese character shu (longevity) are laid on the coffin at the guest room. In front of the coffin they put the photograph of the dead, and a temporary incense pot which forms an altar for the dead. To the left side of the door, hang three images of the Buddha including Amiduofo painted on cloth and an altar is made there. On this side sit the members who play musical instruments, such as qin, erhu, gu, and luo.[20] The villagers build a temporary awning in front of the house and fix up light bulbs. The member who plays the role of the priest changes into his ritual clothes, and the relatives also wear mourning dress.
With guidance from the priest, the relatives take a bamboo pole which is one of the symbols of the dead, and they send the dead to the other world (infu) The long journey to the other world is represented by the repeated circular movement in front of the house and in the guest room. The relatives continually hold incense and by offering this to the dead, and with the help of Amiduofo's power, they bring the dead safely to the other world. On the way magical papers which drive away evil spirits are attached to the door and the coffin. The relatives make offerings to the world of the dead, symbolised as a paper house, and they pay coins as a transportation fee. Finally, they obtain permission to transfer the dead to the other world and cross the bridge which connects the two worlds. They leave the dead in the other world, and then they themselves return by walking back from the bridge and separating themselves from the dead. Sometimes the drama is performed in which the priest destroys the gates of the castle.
This ritual performed by the funeral band is the most formal one in the funeral ceremony. Because of the formality the relatives are obliged to behave seriously. In the case I saw some distant relatives left the ritual in the middle, and even a grandson was blamed when he smoked during it. In a tropical climate like that of Malaysia it is not easy to wear mourning dress on top of normal clothes, and the relatives are obliged to be patient as they sweat. The priest takes off his ritual costume at intervals. So we can see the ritual does not require the authenticity which is observed in Japan, but the stress is rather on the dramatic elements which are expressed during the performance. Many villagers come to see the ritual as spectators, and watch intently as the Teochiu drama is performed in front of the house. In some cases the spectators number more than a hundred. They can only see dramas in the Teochiu language at kongte and at the festival at the village shrine. Kongte is their favourite entertainment and they describe these performances as beautiful or fantastic. We see that kongte functions as more than a funeral drama performed by the relatives. Other villagers also reconfirm their identity of being Teochiu through kongte.
Before the kongte ceremony consolation money is sent to the house of the dead from each household. It is handed over in cash and the people in charge write down the name of the household head and the amount of money. The amount of consolation money varies from a few Malaysian dollars upwards. Usually it is around ten dollars, but contributions from companies may amount to a hundred dollars or more (at the time one Malaysian dollar was equivalent to about 100 yen).[21] After receiving the money, two candies connected with red string are given to the visitors. The colour red is a symbol of prosperity for the living. In the intervals between ceremonies porridge is sometimes served to the spectators. Serving food in this way to the villagers is the main factor which determines the villagers' opinions of the relatives. They criticise the relatives as greedy or selfish in the houses where they receive bad service. This is because, even though participation in the funeral rites is an obligation for all the villagers and they have to assist the relatives of the dead in some way, the relatives are also considered to be entertaining the villagers as their guests in return for their support.
Those villagers who had close social relationships with the deceased write messages of condolence in the Chinese language newspaper. On these occasions titles such as cifanzhangzun (for a long-lived woman), fushouquangui (for a long-lived man), or yinrongwanzai (for a relatively young woman), together with the date of the death, the age of the deceased, and the name of the sponsor, are included.
At relatively large funerals (for examples in the cases of Qin and Tong whose relatives were influential members of the village) notification of the death from the deceased's sons and information on the date of the funeral procession from the committee for the funeral rites is hung on the house or the building where the coffin is placed. The committee for the funeral rites consists of a chairman, treasurer, clerk, director, and a person in charge of transportation, and the list of members is appended to the notice.[22]

Funeral procession and burial

The next day the coffin is placed in the area in front of the house, and a simple ceremony is held in front of the coffin. In addition to the relatives, friends, acquaintances, and the villagers also participate in the ceremony. This ceremony is therefore more open than the ceremony of the night before. In particular, daughters and their husbands make their special offerings to the dead. The spatial disposition of offerings at this time is as follows: the coffin is placed at the side of the area in front of the house, with its feet facing the gate. Next come the tables on which offerings are set, the chair on which offerings are set, and a red flag in that order, facing the gate.[23] On the table are five sets of cooked rice, soybean curd, and lo tung chi. The number five symbolises the deceased himself and his four sons, and the red flower symbolises longevity. Five pots which contain uncooked rice are for the four sons and dasun (eldest son's eldest son) to take home, cook three bowls of rice, and eat them together with the family within seven days. Chopsticks are used on that occasion.

The ceremonies before the funeral procession

First there are ceremonies involving the daughters and their husbands. The daughters and their husbands make offerings for the coffin, with red cloths over their shoulders. Next, the chief priest makes prayers for a banner, which is sent by the daughters' husbands, and on which are written the name and age of the deceased.[24] The relatives burn paper money, and the daughters and their husbands hold the banner and erect it at the side of the table. Candles are placed under it, and they eat apples and oranges.
Ceremonies which follow involve all the relatives. One by one they make offerings of incense to the coffin. The chief priest prays, while beating a cymbal, and then goes around the coffin pouring water. Then following the main priest the relatives also go around the coffin three times. The priest prays, and the relatives worship three times, and the chief priest then swings the bamboo pole (which was used in the kongte the previous night). He empties three cups of tea and three cups of spirits as offerings, and relatives worship a further seven times.
Some further ceremonies are only carried out when influential relatives are present. Representatives of the various associations and the village,[25] and friends go to the table and worship: firstly they offer incense, secondly tea, thirdly spirits, and finally flowers. They then bow three times. Representatives of the relatives (normally the sons in turn) present a cheque as a donation to the associations. Only on this occasion do people other than relatives have the opportunity to separate themselves formally from the dead. The donations to the various associations enhance their social rank and they become the subject of articles in the Chinese newspapers.

The funeral procession

The funeral procession is the most public element of the entire funeral ritual. The length of the procession shows the magnitude of the funeral ceremony. The parade starts from the house of of the deceased, and goes along to the cemetery. However if the journey to the cemetery is long, the participants disperse at a certain point and only some of the relatives, together with the coffin and the villagers who are to help with the burial go to the cemetery.
At the head of the procession there is the red banner, then the villagers, friends and acquaintances, then the lorry which bears the coffin (with cymbals and a drum), and lastly the relatives. On the way to the cemetery silver paper money is scattered on both sides of the road from the vehicle and the cymbal is beaten. People standing along the road watch the procession. In "S" Village four sorts of flag are used in the parade for a funeral procession, belonging to four organisations: the primary school graduate's association, the primary school committee, the primary school's PTA (parent-teachers' association) and the local branch of the MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association), with its youth branch. These flags are carried by the villagers and their children. Apart from these four flags sometimes the flags of other associations in which some of the relatives are involved are used for the parade. As was the case with Qin's wife, a large scale funeral procession may consist of more than a hundred people pulling wires connected to the carriage. To those who participate in the procession the relatives distribute small towels or small packets of money.

The burial

When the coffin arrives at the cemetery, it is placed in a hole in the ground which has already been dug, usually by Indian labourers.[26] The position is deliberately fixed and even slight deviations are carefully corrected. It requires more than ten adult men to lower the coffin into the hole. They spend a long time completing the job. When the coffin is safely lowered, relatives carry out a simple ceremony there and make offerings, then they take a temporary incense pot to the house of the dead. Only a small proportion of the relatives go all the way to the cemetery, and most of them return to the house after setting up incense sticks on the way.

The burial ceremony

The burial ceremony has the following stages: first the coffin is placed in the hole dug in the ground. Next, relatives scatter the zhongzi,[27] and throw soil on top of the coffin. The coffin is then covered by a red flag and more soil. The main priest offers, prayers, and after more offerings paper money is burned.[28] The grave is covered with a concrete panel, and the main priest prays once more. The eldest son scatters the contents of the zhongzi and the relatives surrounding the grave receive them, and take them home. They also collect some of the surrounding soil in pots.
In cases where a village cemetery is used, bricks and cement are brought to the cemetery and the burial is conducted by villagers themselves. This job requires hard labour, and it is not an easy task even for young adult men. To complete the burial take more than an hour.
After the burial they go back to the house of the deceased, where a new altar for the dead is set up in the guest room.[29] The main priest makes prayers at the altar, and the relatives make offerings for the dead with incense sticks. Then the main priest pours water. For villagers who assist with the burial, food and liquor are served at the house of the deceased or at a restaurant in a nearby town.[30]

After the burial

The mourning period of a hundred days

After the burial the villagers go back to their houses in small groups. The relatives also go back home, and only the household members are left at the house of the deceased.
Even after burial everyday life continues to be affected. In the guest room there are a tables and a chair, and on the chair in many cases the clothes of the dead are hung. It is suggested that the chair indicates the existence of the deceased. On the table are the temporary incense pot and a small light on an oiled dish.[31] A towel and small bucket are kept at the side of the table, and the water in the bucket is changed every day. The relatives worship several times a day and burn paper money. For a hundred days the presence of the dead remains in the guest room. During this period of time they fix special days for worshipping the dead. For example in Pin's mother's case the eighth day of the ninth month was fixed as the first day (i.e. the seventh day inclusive from the day she died). The second day was fixed for the fifteenth day of the ninth month, the third day for the first day of the tenth month, the fourth day for the fifteenth day of the tenth month, the fifth day for the first day of the eleventh month, and the sixth day for the twelfth day of the twelfth month (all these dates are based on the Chinese lunar calendar).[32] For these hundred days relatives may continue to wear mourning dress or put on signs of mourning. Male relatives seldom continue to wear the dress but daughters or sons' wives follow the rule strictly. A mourning sign is put on the left shoulder when a father dies, and on the right side when a mother dies. During these hundred days of mourning several taboos are imposed on the relatives. However there are few taboos that are strictly kept. The main effective restrictions are as follows; they do not participate in celebrations like weddings, and do not wear brightly coloured clothes, such as red and yellow, but dress in black, white and blue. Even at the Chinese New Year they do not celebrate at all: the house of the dead remains silent when the other households enjoy the most pleasant season of the year. This contrast suggests the seriousness of the obligation of mourning for the members of the household of the deceased.

The ceremony to complete the hundred day mourning period

The ceremony to complete the hundred day mourning period means returning from an abnormal transformational stage to a normal stable situation both for the living and the dead. The relatives no longer have the obligation to mourn. (Some villagers say the mourning period should be a year or three years, but in practice such long periods of mourning cannot be seen in everyday life in the village.) The living go back to their normal lives and the dead now have the position of ancestors in the social life of the village.
The ceremony is conducted at the house of the deceased, and those relatives who gather at the funeral ceremony mostly come again on this occasion. The ceremony is sometimes held by a Taoist priest and sometimes without. The relatives burn a paper box and they surround the box with sticks of incense.[33] This is the time when the dead leave the house, and some of the female relatives cry. Clothing and gold or silver paper money are burned at this time. This ceremony is accompanied by a feeling of liberation for the completion of the mourning period. The relatives begin to talk to each other more cheerfully. The main components of the ritual are as follows. The priest stands in front of the altar to the dead and prays to the beating of a drum. The relatives kneel around the altar with holding two sticks of incense. At the end of the praying the priest strikes the altar strongly. The white candles fall down and are taken away, and the relatives erect sticks of incense.
Next the relatives make an offering on the altar with paper boxes. There are three boxes: two for ancestors that have already died, and one for the dead person. They put gold and silver paper money in a large basket, then bring the basket to the area in front of the house. The priest prays. The relatives hold two incense sticks. Then they move around the paper box three times, and they make offerings using temporary incense pots in which red candles are placed when they come to them. After moving around beside the box, and returning to their original places, the relatives surround the paper box, and set fire to it and the paper money. They also make offerings of incense and cry. Their mourning caps are burned and their belts and jackets are passed once above the fire.
The relatives then enter the house and on the normal altar to the father's father and father's mother, the cover of which has already been taken away, they also make offerings to Toapekong.[34]
Before the ceremony many offerings are made to the dead.[35] By this time the tomb is often completed and they also go to the cemetery. Tombs are built for couples and the inscriptions on them are the personal names of the couple, the date of death, and the place of origin in China. New tombs sometimes also have photographs of the couple. If the husband has two or three wives, their names are inscribed on the same tomb. In any case the the left side of the tomb is the man's side, and the right side the women's. The tombstone itself is not at all a sacred object as it is in Japan, and the relatives and the villagers do not mind sitting on it for a rest. The Taoist priest carries out a simple ceremony there and the relatives plant sticks of sugarcane behind the tomb.

The ceremony in front of the tomb
This ceremony is carried out as follows. The relatives make offerings to xianghuye which is located at the back of the tomb, and worship it.[36] The upper part of the tombstone is covered with red cloth and golden dolls, and the colour of the inscription on the tomb is changed from gold or red to green. The relatives make offerings of incense, and stand around the tomb with sugarcanes. Then they take memorial photographs. After eating some of the sugarcanes on the spot, they plant four of them at the back of the tomb. A pineapple is also planted there. Then five kinds of grain are poured onto the soil in the tomb, paper money is burned in front of it, and the relatives worship once more with incense sticks.
When the tomb is completed, an incense pot is placed on the household altar. This means that the dead has at last been transformed into an ancestor who occupies a proper place at the descendant's household's altar and the tomb.

The Qingming festival

The Qingming festival is an occasion for ancestor worship according to the Chinese lunar calendar. In "S" Village a week before Qingming the villagers begin to sweep the tomb and make offerings.[37] The village community hires labourers (mostly neighbouring Indian workers) to weed the village cemetery. At the Qingming season the entire landscape of the village cemetery is cleared up. The largest number of villagers goes to the cemetery on the day of Qingming itself. Worship is carried out by each household, and the village community also makes offerings to the tombs of those who have no relatives or who died young (actually there are no tombs for them but only a pile of soil). These offerings are distributed to each household after the worship. After the day of Qingming itself, hardly any villagers go to the cemetery for worship.
There are some cases where even married brothers who have separate households go together and worship at their parent's' tomb, but mostly worship is conducted household by household. It is not necessary for the household head to go to the cemetery: only the wife of the household head may go to worship. However more male villagers worship their ancestors in comparison with regular calendrical worship at the village miao. Those who have already moved to other places also come back to the village to worship their ancestors. Young people who work outside the village also come back to the village. So at the Qingming season the village population becomes larger than usual.
Those who make offerings wear ordinary clothes. They worship with incense and they put coloured paper on the back of the tomb.[38] These papers are proof of worship. There is no one who makes offerings of food in front of the tomb. The pile of soil at the back of the tomb expresses the prosperity of the descendants, so they want raise their status more and more each year. Every household makes its own offerings at the household altar.


Funeral rites are a kind of rite of passage. In many societies funeral rites have by far the greatest importance in their ritual and social life. I point out that, as in other societies, the social integration of the village community is strong during the funeral rite.
For a particular community continual generational change is unavoidable. Members of the community have to create ways of transforming the ambiguous existence of the dead into the stable form of the ancestors. The funeral rite is the means for this transformation. Van Gennep's classical framework of rites of passage is still useful for the analysis of my field data. The three stages of seclusion, transformation and re-integration can be observed. In the stage of seclusion, the deceased is not removed from the village community, but the house of the deceased changes its nature. The house of the living becomes the house of the dead which is strongly connected to the other world. The villagers belonging to other households can visit the house of the dead, but cannot participate in its affairs during the period of seclusion.
During the second stage of the transformation, the deceased is represented in various forms. The relatives of the dead can gradually recognise their separation from the dead according to these forms. This prolonged period may help the psychological adaptation of the relatives to their new situation. I also stress that the relatives themselves transform their social statuses after the their stage of re-integration, which is represented by the completion of the mourning period. The son who has lost his father becomes the household head, the wife who has lost her mother-in-law gains a more powerful status in the household. Therefore we can say that funeral rites are a separation from the parental generation and that they lead to the independence of the children's generation at the same time.
Funeral rites are also an aspect of ancestor worship. They share common features of rites of passage because of the unavoidable facts of death which is the biological reality. But the practice of ancestor worship varies a lot depending on the character of the ancestors and the relationship between the descendants and their ancestors in various societies.
In the Chinese case the practice and theory of ancestor worship is at its most sophisticated. In fact, the traditional Chinese religious practice revolves around the concept of ancestor worship. Even if elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism can be seen in their religion, the real basis of spiritual life is no doubt ancestor worship. Moreover, their social life is also governed by the axioms of ancestor worship. From the Emperor to the poor peasants, ancestor worship is the core of their spiritual life. And the obligation to mourn one's parents is the heaviest duty for all strata of Chinese society. Even the gods in many cases have human origins. Ancestors become gods. For the Chinese the gods are not the antithesis of human beings, but rather transformational appearances of the same entity. Therefore ancestors and gods coexist in the same domain of the altar in a household or in the ancestral hall of a lineage.
It is no wonder that the study of Chinese religious life is based around ancestor worship. But in many cases it is connected with lineages or clans, and so many of the best documented cases of ancestor worship are in Hong Kong or Taiwan where lineages and clans are often found. It is an interesting problem as to how the practice of ancestor worship relates to the formation of groups of agnates or non-agnates, since the Chinese need a common ancestor when they want to develop strong social ties.
However, among the overseas Chinese where they form few lineages and clans, what is the main function of ancestor worship? I think its main function is to preserve their ethnic identity. By performing funeral rites, the villagers reconfirm their identity of being Chinese or Teochius.
Watson states that the standardisation of ritual is central to the creation and maintenance of a united Chinese culture, and he stresses the importance of weddings and funerals (Watson, 1988). I agree with him. The practice of rituals, especially of weddings and funerals, are manifestations of Chinese identity. But I have to add that to preserve their ethnic identity the ideology of ancestor worship itself is more important than the practice of rituals. I have described the details of funeral rites in "S" Village thus far. However, I do not think their practice of funerals has been continuously performed in a uniform manner since their arrival in Malaysia. As shown in the case of Sui, economic conditions greatly affect ritual practice. Before the introduction of trawl nets in the 1960s, the villager's economic situation was worse than at present. So I suppose the funeral rites were performed in a much simpler form in those days, even though some parts or elements might have been more traditional or more complex. As for weddings the villagers also preserve the framework of the ritual, but new elements such as western-style wedding dresses and photographs of the couple have been introduced. I still think that the practice of ritual is not prone to change as is language. There are many overseas Chinese who cannot speak any of the Chinese languages, but they still perform Chinese-style rituals, especially funerals. But the practice of rituals is also changeable. The direction of change is not always from the traditional to the modern, or from the complex to the simple, but also from the modern to the traditional or from the simple to the complex. Literature, which has a great importance in the standardisation of rituals, also plays a key role in revitalising or recreating traditions. So I think we had better look for the core of Chinese identity not in the practice of rituals, but in the ideology of ancestor worship.
I say that ancestor worship is the axiom of Chinese life. This means that ancestor worship is not only a religious practice, but also a way of life. It is often said that Chinese religion is oriented to merit making, and the Chinese are free from strict religious restrictions. The Chinese have a secular orientation. They do not mind what kind of gods they worship, on condition that they can obtain some kind of merit through the worship. But as for ancestor worship, they do so not because they can obtain merit from their ancestors but because they need the ancestors themselves. The Chinese language and the Chinese style rituals are not the essential elements of their identity. In other words they can learn the language and rituals if they need. But without ancestors they cannot be Chinese. The Chinese people have a strong consciousness of the sense of continuity. In order to understand the Chinese people, I think, it is important for non-Chinese to make clear this sense of continuity.
It is often said that the whole of the Chinese people are descendants of the glorious mythical emperor Huangdi, while each surname group also has their own splendid ancestors, which the Chinese unconsciously connect with themselves. It is their pride that they have this kind of continuity. The orientation of the Chinese people is towards the past. They value age rather than novelty. Even though they create new lives for themselves, they have to anchor them in the past.
Lastly, I have to mention two levels of identity, namely that of being both Chinese and of being Teochius. I stress that the funeral ritual is an important occasion on which the villagers reconfirm their identity of being Teochius. But the fundamental structure of the ritual is the same regardless of the dialect group. So the stress might be on being Chinese, rather than being Teochius.
It is true that the act of ancestor worship is formalised in traditional Chinese society. Literature has considerable importance in this. The classics teach the elite how to worship the dead and the ancestors, and people obey the instructions of these elites or the religious professionals.
But they still have minor differences in funeral rites between dialect groups, just as there are with languages. These people who have different dialectical backgrounds can communicate with each other by using written Chinese characters, even though they still speak quite different dialects. Or just like Chinese opera, besides the most famous or prestigious Beijing-style operas, there are many local styles. The framework is the same, but still there are minor differences in pronounciation, instruments, and costumes. Among the Chinese people these kinds of differences play a key role in defining their identity. So we can say that the ideology of ancestor worship preserves both the practice of funeral rites and Chinese identity.
The village ancestors came to the present place about sixty to seventy years ago from mainland China. Since then they have transmitted Teochiu culture continuously to their descendants, through the continual socialisation process after birth. Transmission of the culture from the parents' generation to the children's generation is completed when the parents die and become ancestors. Funeral rites are a separation from the parental generation and lead to the independence of the children's generation at the same time.
Ethnic identity which is transmitted from parents to children through the household is symbolised by the tomb and the household altar. In "S" Village the ancestors have no place in a written genealogy: what is indicated is the present household's head's parents or grandparents. It is like a continuous chain; the continuation of ancestor worship is brought about by funeral rites which create the newest links in the chain over the generations. The tightly-knit social network created in "S" Village through kinship and marriage has produced a system of chains which carry on the tradition of Teochiu culture and revitalise it even in an immigrant community surrounded by people who have quite different cultural traditions.


1. Bahasa Malaysia evolved mainly from the Malay language with the addition of many foreign words from English and other languages.
2. There are many Indian Malaysians who are Christian or Muslim. For example in the 1970 census, among Indian Malaysians, 81.2% were Hindu, 8.4% were Christians, 6.7% were Muslims, and 3.7% belonged to other religions
3. The Chinese call them gui, a category of supernatural beings which they distinguish from gods and ancestors.
4. For instance, the Baba Chinese, who were strongly influenced by Malay culture, use Baba Malay, a Malay dialect with Hokkien loan words, but their funerals are essentially Chinese in style (Clammer, 1981).
5. Kwanyin, Oukin (represented by a bundle of charcoal wrapped in red cloth, and which is said to bring much money to its worshippers) and Wangmuniangniang are other fairly popular gods in the village.
6. There are two mutual aid associations in the village, Gisinsha and Huzhubu. Not all households join them, but some belong to both.
7. For example in the case of those whose fathers are tangshongti (patrilineal parallel cousins) they may participate in their father's tangshongti's kongte ceremony.
8. Golden paper money is paper painted gold in the centre, and it is burned when villagers worship the gods and ancestors. Similarly they also use silver paper.
9. However, the household does not always stop their economic activities. For instance in You's house, members fed the pigs when they could take time off from their ritual duty.
10. The name and place of origin are written in black letters on a red plate. The plates are found in about 80% of the households in the village. The word "Tianguancifu" is usually written on the shrine shelves.
11. For example, villagers go to Telok Anson in Perak State to buy coffins.
12. Villagers also call this ceremony Guoye.
13. For example six or seven people take it in turn to watch the dead for two hours at a time from midnight to 6.00 am. The mutual aid associations lend them blankets.
14. In Pin's mother's case, after the arrival of the coffin, the relatives of the dead went to the Natokong shrine and made offerings, two red candles, incense sticks, paper money, and pin.
15. In some case, senshu contains red beans, unhulled rice and biscuits.
16. In the case of Pin, the order was his elder brother's son, Pin himself, his younger sisters, his wife, an unidentified person, his eldest son, his sons' sons, his sons' daughters' husbands, granddaughters, grandsons' wives, daughters' children, and sons' grandchildren. The first five people rubbed it twelve times, and the rest three. Even the children of three or four years old did it with the help of their mothers.
17. In Kun's wife's case, pegs were fixed on the coffin before burial.
18. Sometimes the villagers called this ritual longleng.
19. In many cases the eldest son wears nothing on the upper part of the body.
20. Members of funeral bands can be classified as follows: directors (one or two people), priests (three to five people), players of musical instruments (five to seven people). The priests wears ceremonial clothes, but the other members dress normally. Sometimes most of the priests are female as in the cases of Kun's wife and Tong's mother, and sometimes all of them are male as in the case of You's father and Pin's mother.
22. In the case of the funeral rituals of the relatives of influential villagers like Kun or Tong, the names of the people who live outside the village are written in these lists.
21. For example in the case of You's father, the Chia Brothers Company gave a donation of M$150 to his relatives. This large amount of money reflected the close relationships between Teo, an owner of the company, and You's kin.
23. The offerings are as follows: on one side of the chair there are two oranges, an apple, angpao, kueh (a Malay food made of eggs, sugar and flour), and on the other side of the chair, paper money, two red candles and incense sticks.
24. For older people the age written on the banner is usually two or three years older than the actual age.
25. These were the representative of the Teochiu association, and the representative of the primary school which Bun's children attended.
26. In two out of five cases, the dead were buried in cemeteries outside the village. Tong's mother was buried in the cemetery of a Teochiu association, and Kun's wife was buried at a cemetery in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur where her children lived. A large bus was chartered to transport the villagers there.
27. Sometimes five kinds of grain are scattered.
28. In cases where the partner was already dead and the tomb was completed, in front of the tombstone there was a temporary incense pot on which two large sized incense sticks were set up, with a tea cup, a spirit cup, soybean curd, a bowl of rice, chicken, duck and pork meat, two apples, two oranges, two kak or Teochiu oranges, kuih (Malay cakes), and paper money. The relatives make offerings to Houtu as follows: three cups of spirits, three cups of tea, chicken, duck and pork meat, two applies, two kak, and paozi (steamed bread).
29. They set up a chair and a table. On the table there was the photograph of the deceased, a small light, paper money, the temporary incense pot, two white candles, six bowls of red cherry cake, and four cups of tea.
30. At the restaurant Kun served the villagers, though he did not participate in the funeral ritual.
31. Sometimes the photograph of the deceased is put on it.
32. In some cases the relatives also worship on the 49th day after the death.
33. Inside the boxes there were a bucket, cups, hats, and clothes, all made from paper, and paper money.
34. At this moment the relatives make offerings such as lotungchi and rice balls in red and white to Toapekong.
35. These are almost the same as in the ceremony conducted before the funeral procession.
36. The offerings are red candles, pork, dried jelly fish, and incense sticks.
37. Offerings are nearly the same as usual, but the quantity is larger. The villagers add spirits, rice and chopsticks to the normal offerings.
38. The colours are white, yellow, brown, green, purple and blue.

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Updated 4 June 2020