by Penny Martin .

Singapore’s got fashion to burn!

When the writer Jane Audas learned I was visiting Singapore, she kindly sent me in search of ‘paper clothes for dead people’, which she assured me I would find here. Not a great opening conversational gambit, or so I thought. But it turns out I’m in Singapore during the ‘Month of the Greedy Ghosts’; a period during which Taoists and Buddists create extraordinary artefacts from paper to offer to their departed relatives to benefit them in the afterlife. These are stationed in sorts of shrines on street corners, where the Chinese light incense and play opera for the entertainment of the ghost recipients. Finally, they have ceremonial burnings of the objects, which can range from the bullion bars, card loafers, mobile phones, gold watches, cars, beer cans, bank notes, cigarettes, blouses, men’s shirts, ties and sports tops pictured here to vacuum flasks, fridges, ghetto blasters, Mercedes cars and even mansions. After all, who would send their loved ones peace or everlasting happiness when cardboard mobiles, alcohol and bling jewellery would do? Even the money is printed by the ‘Bank of Hell’! Apparently, you can have things made to order to suit the particular predilections of your dearly beloved. I did think about flashing them a tearsheet of a YSL patent trenchcoat but it was all I could muster to keep the ‘reverential and serious’ face necessary to broker the purchases.

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