What China's Talking About Today: Burning Sacrificial Paper iPhones

"If ancestors are lonely, they can call the grand spirit of Steve Jobs."

beijingApple march28 p.jpg

A woman mourns the death of Steve Jobs at the Sanlitun Apple store in Beijing / Reuters

China produces iPhones and iPads, not just for Apple's international consumers, but its own deceased relatives, according to a recent Sina News article.  

For the upcoming Tomb Sweeping Holiday (Qingming Jie, April 4th), many Chinese traditionally burn sacrificial paper representations of goods -- and money -- that dead ancestors may find useful in the afterlife.

This year, Guangdong shops are reportedly selling paper iPhones and iPads, with prices ranging up to several hundred RMB, based on quality and intricacy.

Dealing in sacrificial paper can be a lucrative enterprise. One sacrificial yellow Lamborghini has been priced at 3,888RMB (888 is a lucky number in Chinese numerology). The item has yet to find any buyers.

The hot new sacrificial item started a trend on Sina Weibo, with close to 500 thousand micro-blogs, well before China's Day of the Dead. Most messages poke fun at the idea that their dead ancestors might be pining for the latest Apple innovation.

Shaman Socrates wrote: "I just burned an iPhone 4S, and heard a ringtone ... #One-line ghost stories#."

Of course, dark humor abounded.

Smile-----forever wrote: "If [ancestors] are lonely, they can call the grand spirit of Steve Jobs."

Presented by

Massoud Hayoun is a digital-news producer for Al Jazeera America.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Global

Just In