Posted by Shan Ting:
An account of the events or the scene at the shoot
As we stepped into Yeo Swee Huat, we were fascinated by the different kinds of joss papers that were hung around the shop. The surroundings intrigued us further as we became more eager to interview the shop owner, Mr Yeo Hung Teo to discover more stories from him.
Yeo Swee Huat is a joss paper shop where all kinds of paper paraphernalia, ranging from customized lantern to joss paper offerings which includes paper deities and funeral products, are made. Mr Yeo has been designing and painting traditional Chinese lanterns for about 50 years.
During the interview, we could see the strong passion of this 75-years-old craftsman through his smile and excitement as he shared his stories with us. Mr Yeo enthusiastically showed us photo albums and newspaper articles that documented him. While he welcomes anyone who is willing to learn, he knows that the younger generation has little interest in this trade. Despite a few interested people who came to learn, they could only master 30 percent of his skills.
Mr Yeo’s devotion and perseverance in art is truly admirable.
Posted by Bee Kuan:
According to Chinese beliefs, the deceased will enter the Underworld to be judged before being sent to Heaven or to receive punishment in the underworld or to be reincarnated.
- What is joss paper?
Joss paper or spirit money, are sheets of paper that are burnt in traditional Chinese deity and ancestor worship ceremonies and in funerals.
- Why burn joss paper?
It is said that burning spirit money is equivalent to making advance deposits into an afterlife bank account that the deceased can access in Heaven.
Joss paper is also burnt by living relatives as a tribute to the King of Hades to request for a shorter stay or to escape punishment on behalf of the deceased.
Joss paper is an essential item. In fact, more is preferred as the deceased uses this money to pay down the remainder of his debt to be able to obtain a body and fate to pursue his karmic journey.
- What is paper paraphernalia?
Paper objects that help in the ancestors’ move include paper passports, flight and rail tickets which can be paid using paper credit cards.
There are also entertainment items like TV, radio and even iPhone nowadays.
Paper clothings, jewellery, accessories, cars with a chauffeur, lavish villas and luxury food items like bird’s nest and liquor are more traditional offerings in the past.
- Why burn paper objects?
Living relatives believe in showering the deceased with luxury items in the afterlife to appease them and accumulate merit.
Posted by: Tan Wanyi
Paper lanterns, a common sight in Singapore especially during the Mid- Autumn Festival are usually imported. However, there are a few traditional Chinese Paper lantern makers in Singapore who are trying to keep the trade alive and one of them is Mr Yeo Hung Teo. Paper Lanterns originated from Eastern Han Dynasty (25AD-220AD) in ancient China and were used as lamps. Nowadays, in the context of Singapore, they are mainly hung outside the premises of temples, businesses or outside the homes of an individual as it is believed to be a symbol of status and identity. The colours of the characters on the lantern will demonstrate its’ purpose. For instance, the colour Red signifies good luck and fortune and is commonly requested by organisations such as Temples.
While the colour Black is usually requested by Martial Art organisations as they signify strength, the colour Blue is only used for funeral purposes.
Nowadays, there are many different types of lanterns and some have modernized in terms of the materials used and the shape that they come in. Materials such as bamboo have been replaced by wires to make the skeleton of the lantern. Also, the use of music has also been included in the lantern with colourful light bulbs in them.