Friday, April 11, 2008


Last weekend we were in Yangshuo during Qingming, the traditional Tomb Sweeping season. This year, Qingming was a national holiday for the first time, and on Saturday the muddy roads and waters around Yangshuo were packed with tombsweeping locals and biking, hiking, and floating Chinese tourists enjoying the 3-day holiday weekend.

Both Sun-Ling and I had never seen real tomb sweeping. In Yangshuo, we obseerved the locals go as a 3 generation family unit to the hillside tomb(s). They walk, motorcycle, or drive. Usally one of the older men carrys a shovel, hoe, or machette. The others carry a cooked chicken and other food, a few hundred small incense sticks, 2 red candles, paper money, red paper, and a string of fire crackers.

After the tomb is cleaned up (weeds removed and stones straightened) incense is lit and food is offered. The more affluent may pay for a Lion Dance. Some burn paper money, others attach it to a flag atop the tomb. Rectangular red papers are pasted on the front of the tomb. Finally, the offerings - including cooked chicken - are taken away, and everyone leaves as the string or three of firecrackers is lit.

In addition, the locals make and eat zongzi, sticky rice squares wrapped in bammboo leaves.

Cleaning the tombs.
Qingming (Tomb Sweeping) -Yangshuo, China

A cleaned tomb.
Qingming (Tomb Sweeping) -Yangshuo, China

Floating tourists. Checkout their footgear.
Yulong River - Yangshuo, China

Zongzi at lower left.
Yangshuo, China

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