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Showing posts from April, 2011

On the Origin of the Chinese Character Representing the Ancestor (祖): Part One

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Last Tuesday was officially the Day of Qingming (清明). Calendrically, this day is one of the twenty-four seasonal markers in Chinese lunisolar system, but it was later designated as the “day” to perform ancestral worship (祭祖).


In Malaysia, the Chinese will usually pick the nearest weekends before April 5 to perform the act. Several rounds of grave gatherings are usually required because we tend to have many great grandparents, grandparents and/or parents, both patrilinearly or matrilinearly.

About two weeks ago, I went to the graves of my great grandparents (Hong Longwang 洪隆往 and Xie Minniang 谢敏娘) in Bukit Kangkar. Both of my grandparents died on the same year. My great grandfather died on February 10, 1949 (己丑年正月十三日酉时), while his wife died approximately nine months later on October 23 (己丑年九月二日未时). Nobody knows when they were born as the birth dates are not engraved on the tombstones. And possibly neither of them did not know their birthdays. I was told that my great-grandfather was in…