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The original world nomad "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Confucius.

Dust to dust

SOUTH KOREA | Sunday, 21 May 2000 | Views [1681]

Yuki's father turned up with Grandmother in a beautifully wrapped box casually tucked under one arm.

We had all flew down south to some military airport near Pusan for the funeral the next day, and startedby visiting Grandmothers original village to find the chain of burial sites for the Chung family.

On the drive out we passed many, many small grassy mounds , just simple earth mounds covered in grass with no marking at all. The tradition here is that the dead 'return' to the land over four generations - about the time it takes for these mounds to gradually decay, and for memories to be forgotten.

A wonderfully natural cycle of impermanence.

The local villagers provide the labour and are paid for their work, but the Koreans have an interesting balance of celebration/sorrow. On the one hand tributes and memories are sorrowful, but on the other hand they have great fun paying (bribing) these villagers to 'work harder' as the mound is constructed.

A small hole for the bamboo urn is dug and gradually covered in layers and layers of turf over a couple of hours, with lots of drinking, noise, "bribery", eating, tears, and prayer. As this nears completion everyone joins in a very formal feast dedicated to Grandmother, whose photo was propped up on the table, which closes the occasion.

It is part of a much larger family tradition, with her father, grandfather, great-grandfather etc in the plots above. Located on a wooded hill with a nice view - she can watch the villagers go about their lives...

Tags: celebrations, ceremony, culture, culture, death, funeral, impermanent, people, tradition


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