Funerary Items

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This is the most esoteric part of the collection and a subject about which little has been written.
The body shrouds are made of the finest silk and often decorated with different interpretations of the sign of longevity.


Burial shrouds are limited to 13 layers of textile, including the lining and provide for a full range of activities, e.g. underwear,

morning, afternoon and, evening dress as well as, work and sleep wear, with the formal coat covering them all.



Funeral Clothes


Items 1 & 2. The front and back of a shroud for a female. There are different theories as to the meaning of the unusual colour of this shroud; these are so conflicting that we refrain from speculating on the reality of this issue.

Item 3 is the male companion of shrouds 6 and 7, seen front and back.

Item 5 shroud for a female.

Item 8 hat for a male and can be used with shroud 3

Items 9 & 10, different skirts worn with female shrouds.

Item 1, a set of shrouds. The first reaching Singapore from China after the Mao era.

Item 12 a set of shrouds

Item 13 an assortment of hats and shoes to fit the various shrouds.

Item 14 a coffin shroud of c. 1900, the oldest item in the collection. It measures 310 x 190 cm.

Items 15 & 16 an altar cloth for a small table at home or at a wake. Blue is the dominant colour for mourning and other, death related issues.

Item 17 another altar table cloth use at funerary related activities. 110 x 100 cm.

Items 18 & 19, ‘celestial ‘bed sheets’. painted sheets of paper of c. 90 x 175 cm. which will be buried at a funeral for the deceased to use in the other world.

20 to 23 Blankets which serve the same function and size as the bed sheets.

Item 20, the reverse of such a blanket which shows that at the period in time, 1950’s, paper was in very short supply in China and bits of paper were pasted together to allow a formal size blanket to be produced. A paper shop owner told LH that later during the 1950’, he sent paper from Singapore to China to have these painted and returned to Singapore for use there.

Items 24 & 25 Coffin lining and body cover respectively

Items 26 & 27, Embroideries used for a location where a funeral or wake is taking place. Item 26 is 230 x 300 cm

Item 28 to 35 the first of these items show the label of the paper producer in Hong Kong.

The remainder of the items show sheets of paper used to build bamboo and paper sculptures of house, or other large items which will burned at the funeral, for the deceased by the deceased in the other world.

These papers are of interest for the technique in producing them ; from woodblock and mud block printing to hand painting. Image 34 is of particular interest as it shows bricks and roof tiles for the house building. Item 33 shows the skies and others serve as wall paper or other uses the paper shop may use them for. There are different sizes of these sheets and some have a heavier type of paper than others, depending on how much strain they need to endure.


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