PDA

View Full Version : cultural question about corpses


Mr Optimistic
19th Mar 2014, 22:48
Well not that cultural but I have a genuine question which is how important is it in Chinese culture to have the body of a dead loved one ? Bit morbid but a brain cell claims that it is particularly significant. Could be wrong so anyone know?

tony draper
19th Mar 2014, 23:01
Read something about the California Gold Rush period, seem to recall reading the Chinese sent the bodies of their dead back home to China where ever possible,seems a difficult exercise until you also read that the gold miners used to send their laundry to be washed to China,so there must have been regular shipping betwixt San Fransisco and China.
:uhoh:

Mr Optimistic
19th Mar 2014, 23:05
No Chinese laundry in California? What an opportunity missed.

tony draper
19th Mar 2014, 23:10
Eventually there was but in the early days of the rush conditions were very primitive.

Mr Optimistic
19th Mar 2014, 23:21
Eh, so the port said ship sailed from was very primitive too ? I've looked at the likely time you would be separated from your voyaging underwear and how many sets would be needed in the interegnum. By my calculation it's 8.

500N
19th Mar 2014, 23:23
Eventually there was but in the early days of the rush conditions were very primitive."


What ever happened to washing in a creek or stream ?


The Chinese were smart over here in Aus, they supplied a lot of the services in the gold rush areas !!!

tony draper
19th Mar 2014, 23:31
Indeed it seems unlikely but it is true,they sent their knickers to China to be hoovered.:)
What I was indicating was if they could send laundry they could send corpses.
Anyway quite possible a hairy arsed gold miner would happily go 8 days? betwixt underwear changes.
:rolleyes:

Mr Optimistic
19th Mar 2014, 23:32
I added contingency.

500N
19th Mar 2014, 23:48
One pair of underwear can last 4 days !!!

And what is wrong with "going Commando" :O

Sir George Cayley
19th Mar 2014, 23:50
So, as usual a fair question about religious mores has been subverted into underpants humour on page 1.

Well done chaps. Your parents must be so proud.

The actual answer is that Chinese culture varies dramatically across its vastness.

From the Muslim west to the cosmopolitan east there must be dozens of ways to treat the dead.

Maybe the angst so graphically shown on TV today reflects, in part, a need to deal with remains within a limited time scale.

SGC

flyhardmo
19th Mar 2014, 23:51
Seems not much has changed.


Practice among some Chinese students of mailing dirty laundry home prompts debate | South China Morning Post (http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1449520/practice-among-some-chinese-students-mailing-dirty-laundry)


Practice among some Chinese students of mailing dirty laundry home prompts debate
Sunday, 16 March, 2014, 3:33am

WHAT THE MAINLAND MEDIA SAY
Zhang Hong
Some students mail their laundry to their parents for washing, prompting a debate over the pros and cons of the unusual practice
University students are using express couriers to mail dirty laundry home so their parents can return it clean, according to the State Post Bureau.

Is this a sign of smart, efficient living in crowded dorms, or yet another example of youths from one-child families being pampered into a state of infant-adults?

"A big share of our express [post] services at the universities comes from the laundry of students," said Liu Liangyi, deputy director of the bureau's department that oversees market supervision.

Liu, speaking on the sidelines of the parliamentary sessions in Beijing, said some students waited until their laundry piled up before sending it home.

"Such new business reflects [how] people want to pay for convenience as they [become] better off," Liu said.

The news seemed relatively innocuous at the time, but Liu's remarks attracted wide attention in the media and online.

A woman in Changsha told the Changsha Evening News her son, who was studying in Chongqing, had been mailing laundry home every two months since he started university three years ago.

Far from being a wide trend, however, only a few university students were engaged in the practice, the newspaper said

A post office worker said there were plenty of laundromats around the campus, and given that courier costs exceeded laundromats' prices, most students did their own washing.

The Chongqing Times interviewed 100 students from 10 colleges in the city, but none admitted to mailing home laundry.

Some parents told the newspaper they were willing to help wash clothes if their children sent them.

The Times noted that laundromats cost 3 yuan (HK$3.80) to 5 yuan per load, while inter-city express delivery services cost dozens of yuan for every 10kg.

The Chongqing Business Daily criticised students' inability to take care of their own laundry, suggesting many were overly pampered.

Most university students today were born in the 1990s into single-child families.

They may have received too much attention from their parents and grandparents, earning the post-1980s title as the "spoiled generation".

"Many factors might have contributed to the students' inability to care for themselves," Chongqing Business Daily said.

"The most important one is a lack of family education. Parents have spoiled their children and asked them to focus only on studying, while taking over many responsibilities that should be shouldered by the children themselves."

There have been several reports in local newspapers about parents over-indulging their offspring.

The Qingdao Daily reported on a mother who flew thousands of kilometres from the northeastern city of Harbin to bring cold medicine to her daughter, who was studying in Shandong province.

"Parents should send the laundry back as it is and leave the children to handle it themselves. [Making] children independent is the most responsible action parents should do," said the Chongqing Business Daily.

The Guangzhou Daily argued there was a valid reason for mailing laundry.

"Even if there are many students who mail clothes back home, they might be doing so only when the seasons change," it said. "They send the clothes that are [inappropriate] for the season back home to save [space in] their dormitories."

"This doesn't [mean] that students are lazy or spoiled. On the contrary, it reflects the fact that young students are quite smart in arranging their daily lives," the newspaper said.

It concluded the dirty-laundry trend was not as big as Liu described. "Liu might exaggerate the facts to highlight the convenience that express service brings to the public."

[email protected] [1]

Mr Optimistic
19th Mar 2014, 23:57
Thanks SGC. Grim topic so no harm hopefully. Motivation for question is probably clear though I can hardly think of the grim bitter hatred that would motivate it, nor how it could be hidden.

reynoldsno1
20th Mar 2014, 00:15
mrsr1's family are Buddhists in SE Asia. When her eldest brother died I was in the village, and the family insisted that I help wash his body before it was placed in a refrigerated coffin prior to cremation. I found the experience quite moving, and was not at all uncomfortable...

Hydromet
20th Mar 2014, 01:37
Read something about the California Gold Rush period, seem to recall reading the Chinese sent the bodies of their dead back home to China where ever possible
The same thing happened in the Queensland gold rushes. The skeletons were sent home, rumour has it that some of the long bones were filled with gold dust.

Mr Optimistic
20th Mar 2014, 01:50
Now about the original question, could someone think that removing physical bodies from their relatives would be a strong psychological strike against them ?

Worrals in the wilds
20th Mar 2014, 03:51
I don't know if it's across the board, but many years ago I remember a Chinese woman who had come to Australia to collect her dead son's ashes (he'd died in a car accident). For some reason she had to carry the ashes the whole way and apparently wasn't allowed to put them down.

We had to do a bit of running around to facilitate her through the airport, which was not a major problem. It was the only time I saw it happen so it might be a particular local tradition from one part of China.

I did read somewhere that for a lot of Chinese Buddhists it was important that your body be in one piece for the funeral, and model substitute arms and legs were available to attach to the body for the funeral for people who had lost limbs during their lives. Again, I don't know how widespread that is.

Gordy
20th Mar 2014, 05:58
I spent a few years living and working in Hawaii, which has a strong Chinese population. The Hawaiians believe that a persons strength and values lies in their body and spirit. This was called their "Mana".

I never learned the full meaning and understanding of a person's "Mana", but I was part of a few "Hawaiian funerals" in which the person's "Mana" was allowed to depart the body and transferred to someone else.

If anyone has more info on the Hawaiian "Mana", I would live to learn.

I believe this maybe somewhat related to the original question in this thread.

parabellum
20th Mar 2014, 06:12
Not sure which part of China but it is customary, for an annual festival, to dig up the bones of their relatives, give them a good clean and polish and place them in an earthen ware jar for the period of the festival so that relatives can visit them. When the festival is over the bones are returned to the grave.


The orientation of the grave is very important for the spirits etc. Hong Kong used have a lot of 'illegal' graves that you could see driving in the rural areas, sites that had no permission and unlikely to get it, but they popped up overnight, just the same.

charliegolf
20th Mar 2014, 08:18
One pair of underwear can last 4 days !!!



5 weeks actually.

Week 1 normal wear.
Week 2 back to front
Week 3 inside out
Week 4 inside out and back to front

All surfaces well used.

Week5, boil up for soup! Repeat for week 1.:ok:

CG

Tankertrashnav
20th Mar 2014, 09:25
Getting back to the OP's post, it is surprising how the traditions of treating dead bodies differ dramatically around the world. Some religions forbid or actively discourage cremation, whilst others, such as Hindus, demand that the body be burned.

When I was in Russia I was surprised to learn the the theoretically atheist and ideologically communist family I stayed with still held firm to Russian Orthodox beliefs when it came to burying the dead. I was told that when an elderly relative had had a leg amputated shortly before dying in hospital, there was a big fuss from the family when they discovered that the leg had been incinerated. They believed that the detached leg should have been returned to them for burial with the corpse so that he would be complete in the afterlife!

charliegolf
20th Mar 2014, 09:49
They believed that the detached leg should have been returned to them for burial with the corpse so that he would be complete in the afterlife!

And Catholics too, for a very long time, denounced cremation because it went against belief in(from the creed), "the resurrection of the body, and life ever after..."

I think the first crem in Ireland was as late as the 80s?

CG

tony draper
20th Mar 2014, 10:49
Recent archeology has thrown up some really weird stuff practiced by our neolithic ancestry,bodies deliberately buried under the floor of the roundhouses where the family lived,not only that the bodies that had previously been mummified by being placed in a peat bog,then after a while dug up from the living room and excarnated (any remaining flesh removed) and a different head (skull)fitted.
Other skeletal remains found with holes drilled in the ends of the long bones for pegs showing that at times the loose bones of the skeleton were re-articulated,
Lots of theories put forward in explanation,think myself that trying to figure out religious ritual from scant evident is a exercise in futility,the strangest things people do is generally associated with religion,hard to figure out the rational behind modern ones never mind five thousand years in the past.
Still fascinating stuff.
:uhoh:

Worrals in the wilds
20th Mar 2014, 11:23
And Catholics too, for a very long time, denounced cremation because it went against belief in(from the creed), "the resurrection of the body, and life ever after..."Been there, in the dim dark ages of 2012 :(. When an elderly family member died and left her wishes to be buried it was still possible, albeit expensive. That wasn't a problem, but the ancestral family burial grounds were full. Out of town options were available, but try explaining that to a grieving son in rational terms. One of the family's matter-of-fact suggestion 'well they can't dig up the bloody footpath, people will notice, and what else to you want to do? There'll be arms and legs sticking out everywhere' didn't really help, but it was still a salient point. :hmm:

Divine providence stepped in when the funeral home reported that a recent cemetery survey had found six unused plots they'd forgotten about, and did we want one? :ok: Thank you God; it was one of the few times I've really believed in a higher power. :}

We snagged it and then called around all the family and friends to let them know about the remaining five :suspect:.

Truth is, even in roomy Australia the cemetaries are full and burial is no longer a viable option. However, there are still plenty of older Catholic people around who consider that cremation is an abomination, and their family want to respect their wishes. It's a problem...
They believed that the detached leg should have been returned to them for burial with the corpse so that he would be complete in the afterlife!
This sounds familiar wrt to the Chinese POV I've heard about missing limbs.

rgbrock1
20th Mar 2014, 12:31
Tony D wrote:

Anyway quite possible a hairy arsed gold miner would happily go 8 days? betwixt underwear changes.

8 days? Only 8 days? What a fairy. I've gone 3 weeks between underwear changes. (Well, that's a bit of a stretch. 1.5 weeks later we all just flipped them inside out and, voila, good to go for another 1.5 weeks.)

:ok::ok::ok:

Worrals in the wilds
20th Mar 2014, 12:37
You wear underwear?
Posh. :}:} Metrosexual, even. ;)

tony draper
20th Mar 2014, 12:44
One assumes it were the time you were marching with the legions putting the barbarians to the sword Mr Rock,one could not afford to be finicky in such circumstances, same if one was pulling nuggets of gold out the stream bed,just a few more ounces ,buggah me laundry I'll do it tomorrow or next week.
:rolleyes:

dazdaz1
20th Mar 2014, 15:47
About once a month I throw my boxer shorts against the bedroom wall, if they don't stick, the test is repeated the next month. :E

Solid Rust Twotter
20th Mar 2014, 16:09
8 days? Only 8 days? What a fairy. I've gone 3 weeks between underwear changes....


Underwear? I suppose you rent your bottom to sailors as well....:}


Commando is for winners.