Common Knowledge of Chinese Culture

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Mourning

Traditionally, the Chinese are very punctilious in their observance of mourning. At the funeral the mourners are clothed in coarse sackcloth,while the sons and nearest of kin wear caps of the same. White color is the mourning color. A period of seven times seven days is observed in mourning, during which no marriages take place in the family, nor can go to theatres. Funeral rites are performed on each seventh day up till the forth-ninth. There are five degrees of mourning: for parents; for grandparents and great-grandparents;for brothers, sister, etc; for uncles, aunts, etc.; and for distant relatives in line of descent or ascent. In the first, sackcloth without hem or border; in the second,sackcloth with hem or border; in the third, fourth, and fifth, pieces of sackcloth are placed on certain parts of the dress. When sackcloth is worn, after the third interval of seven days is over,the mourners can cast it off, and then wear plain color, such white, gray, black and blue. For a parent, the period of mourning is nominally three years, but really 27 months, and for all this time no silk can worn; during these months,officials have to resign their appointments, as a general rule, and retire from public life. What value the Chinese attach to such matters may be judged by the saying that, "the most important thing in life is to get buried well."

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