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

By Massoud Hayoun

"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."

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/what-chinas-talking-about-today-burning-sacrificial-paper-iphones/255177/