The Popular Edge, Pop-Up and Book Arts News

April 12, 2008

Joss Papers

Paper Joss Dental Box

We’ve just returned from China where The Pocket Paper Engineer, Volume 2, is being printed, and one of the things we’re always fascinated by there are the joss papers. Also known as dzi-dzat, these are paper reproductions of commerical objects that are burned as offerings for the dead. Traditional joss papers are silver and gold paper squares. Others take the form of stacks of faux paper money (known as “hell notes”). But these days, all manner of objects are appearing in temple stores: paper cell phones, TV sets, laptops, and even small cars, to be burned in large ovens on site. Pictured above is one of our favorites, a dental kit featuring a paper toothbrush, toothpaste tube, mouthwash bottle and cup.

The tradition of joss papers goes back to feudal China, when printed paper charms and offerings were displayed and burned at auspicious times of the year. For more information on joss papers, visit these sites:

wikepedia.com
latimes.com
library.thinkquest.org

 

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