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Chinese Ghost Money

  • Chinese ghost money, also known as Joss paper are sheets of paper and/or paper-crafts burnt as offerings to venerate the deceased on special occasions and holidays. The use of ghost money in observing different rituals is profoundly rooted in Asian civilisation. Generally it is used as a symbol of payment of spiritual debts, increase in reproduction, and transformation .Ghost money is also burnt in different Asian funerals, to make sure that the spirit of the deceased has many things to use in the afterlife.
  • The money is almost like real money. We can’t use, but they can. It has a lot of value. If they died they go to hell or heaven depending on their actions in life. But, we can still give them money and things as if they were still alive. They are like real people, just not here with us, and they use different money.
  • It does not matter where they go, or what happened to them, the dead can still receive gifts as if they were still alive.”
  • Traditional ghost money is cut into individual rectangles or squares. Depending on the region, ghost money may be decorated with engraved designs, pieces of contrasting paper, or stamps.
  • The 3 main kinds of ghost money are cash, silver and gold. Cash monies are offered to spirits of the unknown and recently deceased spirits. Silver ghost monies are exclusively offered to spirits of local deities and ancestral spirits. Gold ghost monies are offered to both the deceased as well as higher gods. These divisions between the 3 types of ghost money must be followed exactly to avoid insult of the spirits or confusion.
  • Contemporary varieties of ghost money include electronics, toiletries, cars, houses, cheques, credit cards and paper currency. The designs on paper items differ from simple to elaborate.


  • Ghost money is used to venerate departed souls. It is given to enable deceased loved ones to have all they will want or require in the afterlife.
  • Revering the ancestors is established on the faith that the souls of the deceased continue to live in the natural world as well as have the authority to affect the fate and fortune of the living. The objective of ancestor worship is to make sure the ancestor's continued well-being and positive opinion towards the living. Rituals of ancestor worship consist of offerings to the dead people for their prosperity in the eternal life which is considered to be the same as the earthly life. The burning of ghost money facilitates the deceased person to buy necessities required for a happy afterlife.
  • The burning of ghost money allows it to be transferred to ancestors, gods, and ghosts to use as real currency in the other world. It is believed that the offering of food serves to bring our ancestors and other beings in the other world closer to us. It serves as a bonding tool to bring both worlds together. Ghost money can be used to throw away foul spirits which disturb offerings to the ancestors or gods and create difficulties in one’s life. Ghost money serves to separate the living world from the world of ghosts, gods, and ancestors.