A shop in Dongguan, Guangdong Province selling sacrificial offerings.
Chinese prefer 'paper Apples' as gifts for Qingming Festival
While people rush to get the latest iPhones and iPads, the deceased can also enjoy these trendy high-tech devices, although theirs will be made of paper.
With the Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, a time for paying respect to the ancestors, falling on April 5, some shops in Guangzhou selling sacrificial offerings have put paper-made versions of Apple products on their shelves.
A package of two iPads and four iPhones, paper-made and in different colors, goes for 6 yuan (90 cents), at a shop named Yongxinghang. A MacBook also costs 6 yuan.
The names of the products printed on the package closely resemble the printed names of iPhones and iPads, but the brand is mingwang, or "the king of the dead".
The shop owner, who refused to give his name, declined to say how popular the products are but vendors outside the Guangzhou Crematorium said they will get some stock soon.
Also available at sacrificial offering shops are paper versions of Panasonic LCD TV sets, and every electrical home appliance one can think of, as well as the more traditional cash, credit cards, clothes, air tickets, seafood, cars, villas, face wash and aftershave.
Luxury goods are also gaining popularity. One shop is selling Kweichow Moutai, one of China's top liquor brands, for the first time. A package of three bottles of the Moutai and cups, all made of paper, costs 8 yuan.
An elderly woman surnamed Liu bought a set for her deceased husband. "He loved drinking before. I will burn this premium liquor for him."
Every year across the country, more than 1,000 tons of paper products are burnt as offerings during the Qingming Festival period, costing more than 10 billion yuan, China Consumers' Association told Chongqing Evening News.
People worshipping their ancestors in public places in the month around the Qingming Festival this year and their vehicles are expected to surpass the 4.6 million and 370,000 recorded in Guangzhou in the same period last year, according to the city's civil affairs bureau.
This year, the prices of traditional offerings, such as suckling pig and flowers have gone up significantly in Guangzhou.
A suckling pig costs 468 yuan at the Guangzhou Restaurant chain this year, compared with 398 yuan last year, said Zhao Liping, an assistant to the general manager of the company. Zhao attributed the hike to rising pig prices and human resources costs.
(China Daily contributed the story, translated by Li Jingrong for China.org.cn March 30, 2011)