Money-Burning in Eastern Religions

Examines the use of paper money in traditional Chinese religious ceremonies.

This paper describes several Chinese traditions that stem from principles of Taoism and Buddhism. It focuses, specifically, on the burning of incense and paper money in funeral and other religious rites and the meaning behind this tradition. The paper explains that Chinese people burn money at funerals and other festivals to acknowledge the transformation of a human being from body to spirit. The paper includes a graph.
Unlike food and other gifts, which are meant to attract blessings of the spirits, paper money is used to maintain a distance between the spiritual and material world. Despite all their reverence for the deceased, Chinese equate death with bad luck and for this reason, mock or fake money is burnt during various rites and rituals to keep the deceased’s spirit away. Paper is also burnt with the belief that the money sent to the deceased would either be used by them for their own comfort or will be saved for future use by other family members.”