Sunday, February 26, 2017

Wikipedia: From Death to Joss Paper

I'm having so much fun reading the Wikipedia Trails that people do for class that I've decided to start doing Wikipedia Trails of my own!

I came across this article because a student is working on a project on Death and she mentioned the Grim Reaper: Death (Personification). This is an incredibly detailed article which looks at personifications of death by regions and by different religious traditions. Here is an image of Death as a skeleton with a scythe:


There were so many links to go from there, and I decided to go to King Yan and the other representation of Yama in East Asia. Here is an image of the Japanese version, Enma.


And from that article I went to hell-money. This was fascinating! It is faux money that is burnt in religious rituals. These hell bank notes have the signature of the Jade Emperor and King Yan, and they can feature images of religious and mythological figures and even modern celebrities.


And that led me to joss paper, a term that is new to me! Also known as ghost money. This is a picture of joss paper that has pictures on it of things the dead might need in the afterlife like clothes, shoes, etc. This is all so fascinating, and I had never heard of it before!


And Wikipedia did not give me the origin of this word "joss," so I looked it up at etymonline.com, and I could not believe it: from Latin Deus!
joss (n.) "Chinese figure of a deity," 1711, from Chinese Pidgin English, from Javanese dejos, a word formed 16c. from Portuguese deus "god," from Latin deus (see Zeus). Colloquially, it came to mean "luck." Joss-stick "Chinese incense" first recorded 1831.




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