Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Rethinking Cultural Heritage Authenticity: Tracing and Evaluating Recent Changes in Chinese Ancestral Offering Practices through a Comparative Study of Tang Dynasty Grave Goods and Contemporary Paper Offerings
|Authors:||Jana Denise Trimborn|
critical heritage studies,authenticity,Chinese ancestor worship,paper offerings,joss paper,burial goods,
|Publication Year :||2020|
|Abstract:||通過奉獻祭祀已故的祖先是幾千年以來的中華習俗。其中, 燒紙錢的習俗近年來因為有紙紮祭品上印有現代奢侈品品牌商標而受到國際媒體的關注。這股趨勢使中國消費主義受到質疑, 媒體質疑消費主義正在滲透, 轉化並破壞這古老的傳統。本論文從批判文化遺產研究的角度挑戰媒體對此質疑的正當性。
最後，我認為，譴責印製奢侈品商標在紙紮祭祀品上的媒體文章忽略了上述提到的歷史變化脈絡，且它們的判斷是基於西方傳統觀點的 - 即以布料為祭品主要原料的概念, 來定義對文化遺產的理解 - 遺產必定是古老的，不變的且與現代性相對立。然而，這種關於真實性和遺產的觀點遭到當代文化遺產專家的質疑，他們強調非物質文化和文化表現形式的活躍之重要性。
Providing for deceased ancestors through offerings is a millennia-old Chinese custom. In recent years, the elaborate paper effigies of worldly goods, burnt to be sent to the afterlife where they can be used by the dead, have received international media attention as the emerging trend of including paper simulations of modern luxury and brand items into the offering repertoire is seen as striking testimony of contemporary Chinese consumerism that is infiltrating, transforming and corrupting the authenticity of even the most ancient of traditions. This thesis challenges such media portrayals of contemporary offering practices as “inauthentic”, doing so from the perspective of critical cultural heritage studies.
Building upon an investigation into the origin, history and contemporary manifestations of ancestral offerings as well as the results of a comparative study that puts side to side present-day paper effigies and their historical predecessors ancient burial goods, I argue that although different appearance-wise, contemporary offerings exhibit several striking similarities with earlier ones on the intangible level, including use, function and techniques employed to bestow them with associative value. Changes in material form and design are shown to not only have frequently occurred throughout history, but to be necessary for maintaining the effectiveness of the offerings, since their main purpose is to satisfy the personal needs of the deceased and replicate the lifestyle they were accustomed to when alive, which requires continuous adaptation and evolvement parallel to developments in worldly lifestyle. I further present evidence that valuable and prestigious offerings that bear the potential of functioning as status symbols in the afterlife are not new to the offering repertoire, but have long been used in hope of improving the deceased’s living standard and social standing in netherworld. Since offerings have come to be made exclusively from paper and not as in the past often the case from precious materials that could indicate their value, the associative power of brand logos and brand designs is exploited to mark them as valuable. Similar techniques can be observed to have been used on historical offerings made from comparatively cheap material mediums like clay, although the symbolism and associations might no longer be apparent to the present-day viewer. I conclude by arguing that the articles denunciating the usage of paper replicas of luxury and brand items as out of line with previous offering conventions ignore these continuities in the offering custom as their judgement is based on a traditional Western standpoint that features a fabric-centric notion of authenticity and an understanding of heritage as necessarily old, unchanging and opposed to modernity. Such views on authenticity and heritage are however rejected by contemporary heritage professionals, who stress the importance of intangible aspects of authenticity and the dynamisms of cultural expression.
|Appears in Collections:||人類學系|
Files in This Item:
|2.97 MB||Adobe PDF|
Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.