Sat, Dec 01, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Houses to burn
揭開紙紮房的神秘面紗

The paper models made by SKEA are intricately crafted to suit the tastes of the deceased for whom they will be burned.
「天堂紙紮」的紙模型屋皆是巧手打造,作工細緻,能夠迎合燒給往生者的不同品味。

Photo: Noah Buchan, Taipei Times
照片:台北時報記者巴諾亞攝

Frank Hann was disappointed with the available houses: they were all generic and overpriced. The marketing executive decided to build his own, even though he knew this was going against tradition. His family threw their support behind him, and within less than a month he had constructed an abode complete with hot springs, all for his deceased father-in-law.

Burning paper models — from cars to houses — is a common folk practice at funerals in Taiwan. Many believe that the spirit world mirrors the human world, and so the dearly departed need a place to live, food to eat and money to burn. Setting alight in a ritual manner these kinds of paper objects transports them to the spirit world, which keeps the ghost of the departed happy and brings luck to the living.

“The tradition dates back to the Tang dynasty,” says Tseng Kuang-hsing, owner of Jixing Paper Art Co. Tseng began building paper model houses 40 years ago when he was 16, a time, he says, when the industry was dominated by Taoist monks and priests.

Tseng oversees a staff of six employees at two different workshops on a narrow street in eastern Taipei. In the older of the two workshops, three craftspeople build traditional paper houses using long strips of bamboo for the structure and large pieces of paper with different patterns that can be found at any temple in Taiwan.

Deities from the Chinese pantheon adorn the larger of the paper houses, which range in price from NT$3,000 to NT$30,000. “The older generation prefers this style,” Tseng said, adding that it typically takes two days to construct the larger models.

Across the street at Tseng’s second workshop, younger staff assemble more refined houses. Considerably smaller than the traditional houses (NT$25,000), these are two and three-story mansions (NT$55,000) as well as a Japanese-style bungalow (NT$20,000). These houses take between seven and 10 days to complete. There are no bamboo frames supporting these houses. Instead, the interior of each resembles that of a suburban North American home. Each room is meticulously designed and crafted. Some, for example, have a sofa in front of a fireplace, a canopy bed in the master bedroom or a kitchen complete with refrigerator and stove.

With modernization of the industry has come an explosion in the products on offer. Tseng’s glossy catalog shows items such as desktop computers (NT$3,000), a mahjong set (NT$1,500), a scooter (NT$3,500) and an airplane (NT$3,000), all made of paper. For the crooner in life, there are karaoke machines (NT$1,500). If things in the spirit world heat up, air conditioners can be purchased for NT$2,500.

(Noah Buchan, Staff reporter)

當年,韓定對於市面上的房屋非常失望。看著那些了無新意卻又標價奇昂的產品,這位行銷主管決定親自動手,就算知道此舉勢必違逆傳統他也要做。儘管如此,他的家人仍決定傾力相助。不到一個月,一座附有溫泉設施的居所就完工了──為的是獻給韓定過世的岳父。

燒紙紮模型──小至紙紮車,大如紙紮屋──是台灣告別式中常見的民間習俗。許多人相信,陰間就像是人世的倒影,所以往生的摯愛也需要一個住的地方、吃的食物,以及夠他們燒的錢。點燃紙紮物的儀式能把這些物件傳送到陰間,讓往生後的鬼魂開心,給活著的人們帶來福氣。

吉興紙藝有限公司的師傅曾光興表示:「這項傳統技藝最早可以追溯到唐代。」四十年前,十六歲的曾師傅就開始「建造」紙紮模型房屋。那時候,曾師傅說,整個產業都是由道教的道士跟法師掌控。

在台北東區的一處狹小巷弄裡,曾師傅監督著兩間不同工作室的六名員工。在比較舊的那間工作室中,三名工匠運用細長的竹枝搭出傳統紙紮屋的結構,再貼上大張的紙,紙上印的各式圖案都可見於台灣各地的廟宇。

比較大的紙紮屋會飾有各路神祇,價格從新台幣三千元到三萬元不等。曾師傅指出:「老一輩的比較喜歡這種風格」。他也補充說,蓋這種比較大的模型通常需要兩天時間。

巷弄的另一邊則是曾師傅的第二間工作室,年輕的員工們在裡面組裝著更精緻的房子。這類模型比傳統紙紮屋(新台幣兩萬五千元)小非常多,可以做出兩到三層樓的透天厝(新台幣五萬五千元)以及日式平房(新台幣兩萬元)。新式紙紮屋普遍要花七到十天才能完成,不再用竹枝搭成支撐的框架。取而代之的是,新式紙紮屋的室內設計像極了北美郊區的房屋,每個房間的設計都一絲不苟、手藝精巧。舉例來說,有一些紙紮屋的壁爐前方會放上精雕細琢的沙發,主臥房擺的是附有頂篷的四柱床,或是附有冰箱和烤爐的完整廚房。

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