Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Introduction [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 1-17

While we were flattered to be described as young and hard-working, the question did make us stop for a moment and consider the reasons for studying paper offerings; after all, weren't there other, more pressing, topics to explore in Hong Kong? The sheer physical beauty of the items described in this book was certainly the first reason then and now, but it has taken rime to appreciate the thoughts and actions that underlying them...

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1. The Practices of Paper Burning

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pp. 19-51

It was the middle of the month, when people burn paper offerings to the gods for luck and protection. A young woman, obviously a shop assistant from the trendy boutique behind her, carried a battered old oil tin with its top removed across the sidewalk to the curb. She was dressed in the height of fashion — leather mini skirt, lace bra and matching blouse. rhinestone-studded hip belt and knee-high red boots — and with hair...

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2. Individual Workship and Personal Concerns

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pp. 53-77

Hong Kong's many temples are lively with devotees during the birthdays of the deities, the Lunar New Year. and other religious holidays.1 At other times, worshippers visit the temple or worship at home for more personal reasons. As Marjorie Tapley once observed, "A good deal of 'popular' religious activity — performances of the kind I would call...

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3. Gratitude to the Gods, Charity for the Ghosts

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pp. 79-101

The numerous discussions of the heavenly pantheon of Chinese religion (see, for example, Hayes 1924; Heinze 1981; Harrell 1986; Irwin 1990; Stevens 1997, 2001), describe a world populated by a myriad of supernatural beings. In old Hong Kong, gods were given honor as protectors (see, for example, Bone 1889a: 367) and many holidays have...

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4. Remembering the Ancestors

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pp. 103-135

H.Y. Lowe's [Luo Xinyao] 1941 writings in the Peking Chronicle describe a set of three paper houses, one a storehouse holding paper ingots and a model of an automobile, all destined to be burned for the funeral of the old grandfather of the fictional family whose lives Lowe...

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5. The World of Shops and Customers

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pp. 137-157

In Hong Kong, those seeking paper offerings for worship can make their purchases in a variety of ways. Not all the sources of offerings are commercial businesses selling to the public from recognizable and fixed spaces; in short, not all entities seIling paper offerings can be properly called shops. Paper offerings can be purchased...

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6. Learning the Trade, Learning to Craft

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pp. 159-183

Although being completely self-taught is a bit unusual, this master's comments encompass what is expected in the trade — self reliance, innovation, creativity, and love of learning — characteristics not acquired as a matter of chance, but built into the learning process...

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7. Colors, Sounds, and Symbols: The Making of an Auspicious Object

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pp. 185-200

The widespread use of paper offerings in Hong Kong rituals underscores their identification as auspicious objects. While objects can acquire power in a number of ways,1 one method is the extensive use of elements which are themselves auspicious. The decorative elements in a paper offering not only enhance its beauty but also convey ideas and associations to the...

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8. Customers and Customs

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pp. 201-213

The actual number of Hong Kong worshippers using paper offerings is difficult to estimate. Results of the June 2003 survey revealed that 26 percent of respondents described their religious belief as, "ancestor worship/Chinese folk belief" Within the sample as a whole (776), 85 percent disagreed with the statement, "I do not believe in burning paper...

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9. Life in Paper

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pp. 215-235

While Arthur Wolfs comments described the modernizing Taiwan of the 1970s, they are appropriate for Hong Kong, especially his recognition that beliefs endure. How has this customary practice, the crafting and use of paper offerings, proven so enduring and successful? The settings and context for the items and the meanings they have for...

Notes

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pp. 237-259

Glossary

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pp. 261-271

References Cited

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pp. 273-291

Index

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pp. 293-311