Heaps of paper objects being sold at marked-down-all-must-go prices at a shop near my house heralds the end of the Qing Ming festival this year. In Chinese majority communities, these paper representations of everyday objects are a common sight especially during the springtime festival also known as the Tomb Sweeping Day. Filial sons and daughters pay respects to their dead ancestors during this season and some do so by means of a ritual called dzi dzat, which involves burning these paper objects as an offering.
Growing up in the 80s, burning hell notes (or hell money) was a common sight, but as time and technology progress, paper replicas grew in popularity. While it started with paper cars, clothes and houses, fancier, more imaginative items are being offered now. This included make-up kits, mobile phones(various models available), laptops and even Louis Vuitton monogram bags (?!). Paper credit cards are a popular item too but of course, cash (of the hell note kind) is still king.
Anyway, here’s another progression of the ritual, aptly titled Paper Offerings, brainchild of Michael Leung and Nicholas Cheng of Studio Leung.
“With Printable Offerings the production process has shifted from a mass manufacturing and consumer cycle, to one which is virtual and instantly accessible by people. It also provides an intimate and personal approach to choosing a gift. Some gifts are personalisable such as the iPhone and Moleskine notebook.”
Real items on the left, paper replicas on the right.
Basically the studio suggests you print an item (from a pdf file available for download) of your choice on your printer, using a A4-sized paper (preferably recycled!). Offerings include Moleskine notebooks and iPhones. The idea is to reduce the ecological impact of having these items mass-produced in a factory.