What is Ghost Money?

Welcome back, fellow humans 🙂 

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Spirituality, ancestry and the afterlife are viewed and venerated differently in the Asian communities.

Ghost money is also known as ‘spirit money’, ‘heaven money’ or ‘hell money’ derived from Taoism and Buddhism, possibly extending back as far as 1600 BC. Archaeologists have found imitation metal money composed of lead and bronze, placed among the human remains in the tombs

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Burning real money is perceived as inappropriate and unlucky in most Asian cultures. The use of copper ghost money is offered for newly deceased, gold ghost money is for the higher gods and silver ghost money is for familial spirits and local divinities. 

On the day of the Qingming Festival, Chinese people worship and burn the paper money at the graves of their ancestors to allow their deceased family members to have all the essentials needed for a well-furnished afterlife or presenting it as a payment to the Ruler of Hell for a temporary stay or to determine the fate of the living. The notes are left gracefully in a loose bundle or folded in a particular way before being cast into the fire. 

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Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day)

Thank you for reading, fellow humans. 🙂

56 thoughts on “What is Ghost Money?

  1. This was a fascinating read. It seems like money is part of many different afterlife beliefs. The Greeks placed money on the eyes so the dead could pay the toll to cross the river Styx, and we all know the Pyramids were all about royalty taking their possessions with them after they died.

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  2. It is very interesting. This is the first time I have heard of ghost money. I wonder if this tradition is still done today.

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  3. I have heard about ghost money and that some cultures burn the paper money but I had no idea about the meaning behind this tradition. I think it’s really interesting that they want to take care of their families on the other side too.

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  4. This tradition of offering ghost money is becoming really expensive especially in Chinese culture. You can also send luxury items (in the form of paper money equivalent) to your deceased family. It is a huge industry.

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  5. I loved reading interesting history like that. I’ve learned a lot on this. Thanks for this.
    Commenting for Elizabeth Obih-Frank

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  6. It is fascinating to know what traditions and thoughts are behind coins. It makes me wonder what people will think of our coins!

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