Yesterday marked another year of the Qingming Festival, a Chinese holiday to honor the dead. Also known as Tomb Sweeping Day or All Souls Day, families of the deceased visit grave and tomb sites to leave offerings behind. In the early morning hours, families prepare food, candles and incense sticks, and visit the sites to say their prayers. After the prayers comes the tradition of paper burning, where family members burn paper shaped like money or gold as another form of offering. They believe that as these paper incinerates and floats into the sky, it will eventually reach their loved ones.
While this tradition is more than 2,500 years old, the Chinese community has found a new way to honor the dead by combining products from the new technology world. Boing Boing spotted a collection of paper iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks that families can buy and burn as offerings to the deceased. Other modern luxuries one can offer include designer handbags, cameras, earphones, and various tablet models. These paper replicas cost as little as $3, which is a bargain to send as a postage to the sky. More expensive offerings go for as much as 16,888 yuan, or approximately $2,682 USD.
“The paper iPhones and iPads sold are the same size as the real ones with a whole complete package of components like headphones,” a retailer known only as Tang, told AFP. “These … are quite popular. Many people ask about them especially when Tomb Sweeping Day is approaching.”
That’s not to say these products are completely model-accurate. Since the Chinese are very superstitious about luck, this iPad model features an unreal 888 GB of storage, because Chinese people believe the number 8 is prosperous. We suppose 88 GB wasn’t enough to suffice, and we’re not sure how to explain the typos either. We should also note that some older generations of people do see these fashionable offerings as a joke as well, and prefer to stick to traditional things like banknotes and bars of gold.
It’s incredible how far the culture has evolved along with time. Qingming Festival is celebrated all around Asia. When I was growing up, I used to attend some of these Qingming Festivals myself along with the Chinatown community of Thailand. However, the paper offerings back in the day only went as far as origami-esque shirts and houses, and I thought those were pretty crazy. And even then, those papers barely qualified as looking 3D or hyper-realistic.
Still, we do suppose it would be nice for our loved ones to send the latest in tech over to the afterlife so we can experience the innovation that come after we’ve left the earth. Wonder if we can send Steve Jobs a new iPad to play with?
Image Credit: Boing Boing