Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Paper Coffins

The first time I encountered the infamous paper effigies and accouterments for the dead in Asia, I was a little creeped out. Somehow the burning of things to your ancestors was just a little too pagan for my anal retentive, young, Catholic sensibilities.

However, the artist in me appreciated the concept and craft of these paper sacrifices.  I would always ask an open-minded Chinese friend about the meanings, designs and stories behind each of the paper offerings.  However, I have noticed a slight reluctance and superstitious unwillingness to discuss the rites of the dead among the Chinese.

So, this latest development from Hong Kong was a surprise.  In land-scarce and astronomical property prices Hong Kong, a new solution for the dead has been announced.  Eco-friendly coffins are here to save the day ... or night ... or after life ...

The limited burial plots in Hong Kong has driven them to bridge the divide between man and nature even onto death.  Hong Kong's Permanent Secretary for Health, Carrie Yau, stated, “The eco-coffin coincides with the Asian philosophy of integration between man and nature. We will further study the material and design of the coffin and promote the application of the eco-coffin in Hong Kong to bring out the concept of paying tribute to the deceased through protecting the environment.”

These eco-coffins are made up of 90% recycled, rigid (sic) honeycomb cardboard - modern, strong (up to 20 stones), 100% environmentally friendly and customisable.  They come in plain cardboard for the naturalists, wood-grain for the traditionalists, and every conceivable design for the modern dead.  Because you can design your own.  Eco-coffin, that is ... not death.  

So what say you?  Wanna go paper?