Accepted paper:

Seven-day Memorial Ceremony and the Invisible Crucifix: China's Living Heritage Today


Xinyan Chi (Nanjing Normal University)

Paper short abstract:

Seven-day Memorial Ceremony is a common folk funeral custom in China, implying the symbol “+”. It has been promoted to the public ceremony of national level to create a new way to the social links to provide all the citizens from various religions to participate in it.

Paper long abstract:

The Seven-day Memorial Ceremony is to pledge the resurrection of the dead at cycles of seven days in Chinese folks. It has been promoted to public ceremony of national level since Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. Seven is a figure of life in ancient China. For example, Nuwa, a god in Chinese, created the world in seven days, and the female reproductive cycle is marked by seven years. Large amount of ritual items were unearthed in ancient ruins in Sichuan and Tarim basins. The marvel of figure seven is originated from Big Dipper, which consists of seven stars. 12 earthly stems divide whole sky into 12 zones, called zodiac coordinates, with the rotation of Big Dipper which looks like a spoon. Bronze tree No1 in Sanxingdui and the Sun Bird in Jinsha which both located in Sichuan Basin showed this coordinates. The seventh stem of 12 earthly stems, which is Noon, symbolizes sexual intercourse and origin of life in ancient Chinese legends. The symbols "X" in Sanxingdui, the oracle "+" in Yin Ruins, the bronze crucifix in Jinsha, and § in pictures of Fuxi and Nvwa who were considered as primitive ancestors, are all pictographic symbols and prototypes of figure seven.The painting Qingming Shanghetu (Ascending the River at Qingming Festival) also described the folk custom of erecting crucifixes on memorial day of Qingming Festival. All above shows that figure seven is the most living heritage of the mankind in China as the figure of life and the invisible crucifix.

panel WMW05
Intangible cultural heritage, memory and self-hood (IUAES Commission on Intangible Cultural Heritage)