A Hong Kong funeral in the early 20th century

British Hong Kong police and onlookers

The funeral band, with the loud and howling suona horns being the central musical instruments.

In a typical traditional Chinese funeral, Buddhist monks and/or Taoists played a vital role in assisting the deceased to choose the best available new form of existence.

Funeral floats with prominent figures from other spaces who are expected to escort the deceased to the other world.

Here eventually came the casket covered in white cloth and led by four ghost kings.

In traditional Chinese culture, the red colour represents lively and active yang energy, while white is a colour for the dead.

Immediately after the casket was the direct family members, led by the eldest son of the deceased. All the family members donned white, with descendants further covering themselves in a cloak made of hemp canvas fabric.

In a male-dominated society, as China once was, the male descendants played the leading role in the funeral ceremony. Being survived by male offspring represented the top achievement in the life of a Chinese man or woman.

Chinese tradition contains both positive and negative aspects, just like all other cultural heritages.


These images reminded me of a group far grimmer than a family.

All Things Chinese
I think everybody will sooner or later lay in the bed he made.

Why they hide their faces, are they ugly! 😄😊😅😅

All Things Chinese
So far I’m not aware of such customs in other parts of China so I’m not yet able to explain.

Hiding under the shadow of an umbrella and/or a headcover at a funeral seems to be a local tradition in Canton which historically was on the margin of the Chinese cultural sphere, while Hong Kong used to be part of Canton. It’s just like Taiwan where most residents were originally from Fujian Province which was also on the margin, hence the perceived Chinese culture in Taiwan, by and large, often does not reflect the mainstream classic Chinese culture.

With regard to this photo, my guess is it might be because the direct family members of the deceased are too close to the yin realm so it is designed to protect them from the impact of yin qi (yin energy, spirits) or to prevent them from spreading yin qi if they have already been severely influenced, or simply because they are surrounded by yin qi it could make them feel unbearable to be exposed under the sun or bright daylight.

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