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.

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

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Global

Just In