Thursday, 25 January 2018

iPhones For The Dead | MAEKAN

Photo © Mia Haggi | Courtesy MAEKAN
Through NEOCHA, I stumbled on an interesting Hong Kong based media entity called MAEKAN, which describes itself as a platform for "original storytelling in its purest through captivating audio, engaging words and beautiful visuals" and an "audio-first publication exploring unexpected connections in culture".

A few months ago, I was in Kuala Lumpur photographing various temple ceremonies celebrating the Nine Emperor Gods festival, and being a strong advocate in merging still photography with ambient audio, I consequently was interested in MAEKAN's iPhones For The Dead story. (Don't miss the audio link to the narrated story). 

In a Taoist temple in Kuala Lumpur, I recall walking in a warehouse full of paper replicas of money, miniatures of cars and appliances and other luxury items which were destined to be burned as offerings in the memory of Chinese ancestors.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
One of China’s more enduring traditions, involves taking care of one’s relatives in the afterlife by burning fake money known as “ghost money” and other gifts made out of paper. Since the afterlife is thought to mirror the real world, what and how much Chinese residents give their deceased relatives is something of a reflection of trends in the land of the living.

Some burn paper cars fashioned after luxury models like Bentleys, Porsches and Land Rovers, mansions, shopping complexes, laptops and airplanes. 

Millions of people of Chinese descent visit the graves of their ancestors to burn paper money and more as offerings during the annual Qingming Festival, or Tomb-sweeping Day, which takes place early April.