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Author Topic: A Chinese Cemetery  (Read 3473 times)

Raoul F. Duke

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A Chinese Cemetery
« on: October 24, 2008, 10:11:27 PM »
My charming wife, Typhoon Susan, asked me to accompany her and our daughter Hope to visit the grave of her father...a reasonable request (unlike her usual ones bibibibibi asasasasas oooooooooo). I'd never really seen a cemetery here up close before; it occurred to me that perhaps many of you may never really have a reason to visit one. This cemetery is in a small township in far northern Zhejiang province; the day was cloudy and windy with a mist that was almost but not quite rain.

It would be impossible to really convey the sheer scale  of this place...the size and the incredible number of graves. We had to climb a narrow, rather rain-slick path up a hill to get to the correct plot. Here's a view back down the hill, in hopes of giving you a sense of just one little piece of the whole thing.


Cremation is the near-universal rule in China...land is just too scarce and valuable- and just too LIMITED- to cope with the intact remains of the vast population here. So here's a typical section of one graveyard- one of apparently hundreds or even thousands of such yards in this place. Note that here we are in a newer area of this cemetery.


Here is one grave from one of the yards. Headstones list the basic data on the person resting here, and usually a photo as well. It should perhaps be "personS resting", since married couples generally share one headstone and plot. Before the headstone are two small stone receptacles for the urns bearing the ashes. The stone lions seen at many of the graves are in charge of security. The tiny stone benches are for kneeling upon while paying respect to the departed, and I can promise you they are vicious mofos on your knees. The bench can also be used to place flowers, incense, or other offerings.


Here they're trying hard- but in vain- to light traditional funereal candles in the windy drizzle. Who knew you're supposed to light the BIG end of the cone?


Sayin' hey to Grandpa.


A detail of the stone. Mama, bless her, is still with us and still feisty; her side of the stone remains partly empty. I'm told that soon my and Hope's names will soon be added to the family records on this stone.


A detail of the detail. My father-in-law, it seems, was quite the handsome rascal; unfortunately I never knew him. He was apparently a Party member and a local official of some kind. I'm told he was esteemed locally as one of the last actually honest and diligent officials the city had; it's impossible to know how much of this is simply family embellishment. But it is possible; he did come from a generation that took the egalitarianism and commitment to "Serve the People" pretty seriously.


I'm just a sucker for lines and contrasting colors. And, after all these years of living in China, it's kind of striking to see a place that's this orderly. (Not to mention quiet and clean.)


Another perspective shot across a graveyard. Not a single millimeter of space is wasted...


An older section of the cemetery, in contrast to the newer ones seen above.


Finally, there were a (very) few large crypts like this around the cemetery. The final perquisite of power, I suppose, and the final concession to "face".
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George

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2008, 10:38:33 PM »
Very interesting, Raoul. I doubt that I would ever visit a Chinese cemetery, at least with a camera, so it's a good thing you've done.
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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2008, 01:00:42 AM »
I've seen a few individual Chinese graves on a hill, but never a proper Chinese graveyard.  Much better organized than the ones in USania.
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Stil

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2008, 01:06:18 AM »
Very interesting, Raoul. I doubt that I would ever visit a Chinese cemetery, at least with a camera, so it's a good thing you've done.

I'm sure Babe will let them cremate the camera with you.

George

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2008, 01:19:25 AM »
Quote
I'm sure Babe will let them cremate the camera with you.
aoaoaoaoao Oh no! That would "be a waste"
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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2008, 10:13:45 PM »
George doesn't get cremated until after the Babe has sold any remaining semi-functional organs on eBay.  ahahahahah
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George

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2008, 11:01:00 PM »
Perzakkly!
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Lotus Eater

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2008, 12:21:02 AM »
Chinese cemeteries make me think 'as in life'.  No space, always crowded during living and also in death.  This is when I would want to be a Chinese farmer.  They are allowed to be buried (minus cremation) on land they farmed.  Space and a bit of privacy.   ahahahahah

Nice for Hope to be part of the traditional rituals.

becster79

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2008, 12:37:19 AM »
I've seen a few burial plots, I assume on family farming land, during bus and train rides around the place. There only seem to be a few buried there, on the edge of the land and looks really sad and lonely. Such a contrast to life in a crowded country. These always make me particularly sad when I see them...
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Ruth

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Re: A Chinese Cemetery
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2008, 11:35:37 AM »
Thanks, Raoul, for sharing a part of Chinese culture that I'm not likely to run into.
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