Chinese Funeral Rites Research Papers, Essays, and Term Papers 1-800-351-0222 or 310-313-1265 Or Order On-Line! Chinese Funeral Rites Term Paper ID:27797 Get This Paper Free! or Buy This Paper Essay Subject: Examination of the funeral rites in Chinese culture points to some ways in which the social structure in China is maintained & transmitted in the rites themselves & in the accompanying observances of the community.... 7 Pages / 1575 Words 2 sources, 5 Citations, APA Format Rating 28.00 More Papers on This Topic Paper Abstract: Examination of the funeral rites in Chinese culture points to some ways in which the social structure in China is maintained & transmitted in the rites themselves & in the accompanying observances of the community. Paper Introduction: Funeral rites provide a community with a ritual observance of the passing of individuals, a communal expression of religious and social beliefs, and a sense of the continuity of social structures through time.
An examination of the funeral rites in Chinese culture will point to some of the ways in which the social structure is maintained and transmitted in the rites themselves and in the accompanying observances of the community. The family stands as the central motif in Chinese funerary rites, standing as a form of family worship and providing the individual in the present with a direct link to his or her past. The family, and family structure, is a central issue in the religion of China and in popular culture.
As Thompson (1989) notes, ancestor worship, filial piety, both in the present and in terms of the past, hold an important position in Chinese society. In th These practices served as the means to express the griefof the survivors in accepted or ceremonial manner, to help the spirit ofthe dead in its journey through purgatory, to give peace to the soul in thegrave so it would not become a malevolent ghost, to obtain the blessings ofthe soul for the family, to give the family and the clan a continuing senseof wholeness, and to demonstrate the love and remembrance in which thefamily continued to hold its deceased members. How reverence was to be shown was embodied inthe codes of li. Every element in the funeral rites isperformed according to the prescriptions set forth in the ancient codes ofli.
Aspects of theother world are based on a reading of this world--this world hasaccountants and officials, and the other world as well has such individualstoting up the value of the soul and determining whether it has paidsufficient penance to be admitted to the good side of the afterlife ratherthan to that area where the sins are punished and the souls are tortured.
The family, and family structure, is a central issue in the religionof China and in popular culture. As Thompson (1989) notes, ancestorworship, filial piety, both in the present and in terms of the past, holdan important position in Chinese society.
Theseimpurities are recreated, partaken of, and disposed of by the children andother relatives of the departed woman in order to effect her release fromthe fiery place where the souls of mothers would be kept because of theirimpurities. Li means ritually proper deportment in all socialcircumstances. The Chinese word for lineage is tsu, which refers to the maledescendants of a common ancestor, bearing the same surname, and includingtheir wives and children. Thompson says the funeral rites arethe binding force holding together the family and the clan as a religiouscorporation through the generations.
The film The Chinese Cult of the Dead shows the extensive involvementof the family in the funeral rites as well as the reason for thatinvolvement--the dead person relies on the family to make it possible forhis or her soul to travel the correct route to the afterworld and to attaina proper and respected place there.
One of the ways in which the memory of the ancestors was kept alivewas through the frequent recalling of their names and deeds in genealogicalaccounts, treasured documents, and in other similar forms: The careful maintenance of the genealogies and the indoctrination of the children with the glorious traditions of their forebears help to keep the religious sentiment alive, and they reinforce the lineage and family solidarity in the most vivid way. Clearly, the departed soul depends on the rituals to achieve aproper status in the afterlife, and the living relative today knows thatmaintaining these rituals now will lead in time to his or her soul beingtreated in the same fashion by relatives after death.
They had no independent property rights. Oracle bones indicate the presences of thepractice. These practices served as the means to express the griefof the survivors in accepted or ceremonial manner, to help the spirit ofthe dead in its journey through purgatory, to give peace to the soul in thegrave so it would not become a malevolent ghost, to obtain the blessings ofthe soul for the family, to give the family and the clan a continuing senseof wholeness, and to demonstrate the move and remembrance in which thefamily continued to hold its deceased members. The social ritualsof the past are repeated as the rituals of today and will lead to way toanother repetition tomorrow.
Bohannon (1992) notes that a culture is encapsulated in its stories: Stated in other terms, stories are creative expressions of essential aspects of culture. In the ancient age, ancestorworship was prevalent. There aregeneralized rituals for the departed souls, specialized rituals for soulsthat were mothers or that had specific problems which must be addressed.
And, among others, there are also rituals that relate to larger socialissues through stories told of earlier times, legends that are acted out toshow how the world was saved, how the Buddha relates to humanity.
This form of worship is usually considered afeature of primitive cultures.
(Bohannon, 1992, 22 )The funeral rites as shown in the film embody stories and rituals that havebeen repeated many times through the centuries in many funerals; thesestories serve again to link present, past, and future in a continuousfashion.
Servicesthen continued for several weeks, a Buddhist innovation, with priests to becalled as often as possible to perform on certain instruments, chant sutra, and pray for the quick passage of the soul through purgatory.
Hsiao is the basis for the family's government, and different aspectsof life have been adapted to the rule of hsiao and to the role of ancestorworship. Chinese Religion.
Confucius called for threeyears mourning for the death of a parent, and this was based on the factthat the child does not leave the parents' arms until three years old.
When these rites are properly performed, they assure the comfort andwell-being of the deceased in his spiritual existence and thus in terms ofthe good fortune of his descendants. Thompson says that ancestor worship is not merely a ritualobservance of the past or even of the present but is also the root fromwhich the lineage tree has grown.
Theassumption from the most ancient times has been that living and dead aredependent on one another, the latter for sacrifices and the former forblessings.
In the funeral rites as depicted in the film, professional actorsperform specific roles which enlist the participation of family members inovercoming certain obstacles faced by the soul in transit from this worldto the next. Manyaspects of this passage from one world to the next are reenacted in thefuneral rites and in accompanying rituals and art works.
Filiality means elevating the parents to a high position, with theson emulating the father and revering him at the same time. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland, 1992.Thompson, Laurence G.
Lineageties are renewed through various rituals, including elaborate mourningrites and the wearing of mourning garments for long periods of time. Proper conduct based on family lineage is known as li, which includeseverything from the most weighty religious ceremonies to the trivialitiesof daily etiquette.
There were many localvariations on these practices, but all were shaped around the same themes.
The reason for the development of the system of li was toserve as the means for emphasizing status in society, and the code ofbehavior rested on an ideal called hsiao, commonly referred to as filialpiety.