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Chinese Ritual Papers

Secret formulas, sacred writings and magic powers, some 2,000 years ago Chinese invented and perfected the art of paper. They used paper to communicate with gods and goddesses in other worlds. Over centuries, paper replaced previous clay, bronze, jade, silk and gold ritual objects and became a symbolic offering to deities and deceased ancestors. Paper, after all, could be pasted, folded, cut and painted to look like any object desired. Paper, sacred and precious, held surprises and mysteries especially when burned, transforming daily messages to the spirit world. Thousands of varieties of these papers, known as joss, spirit, or money paper, fu or lucky charms, paper gods or New Year prints are manufactured today.
gold money paper
hell banknote money paper
paper charm
purple paper robe with hand painted dragon
red papercut charm with gold lucky characters
gold printed money paper

The selection presented here is a smattering from my collection which contains 1000's of papers collected in Western Chinatowns, as well as Southern China and Hong Kong. My book The Spirit & Craft of Chinese Ritual Papers, and accompanying archive collection of 400 additional papers can be found in the British Museum, London, England, Lilly Library at Indiana University and at the Marriott Library, University of Utah.


Ritual Papers: Aka joss paper, spirit paper, money paper, lucky paper, magic paper, mock money, merit money, paper gods, "ma-zhang", "fu", paper horse, New Year pictures and "nianhua".

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