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Ghost money is often folded in specific ways for certain rituals. (RM)  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Taiwan > People & Culture

Ancestors, Ghosts and Amulets

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Ancestor worship is central to traditional Taiwanese morality; for many people, it's more important than Buddhism or Taoism. Sons are expected to obey and care for their parents and grandparents; this is one reason why many families continue to favor sons over daughters. After the older generation has passed on, their descendants have an obligation to inform them about important events within the family, such as upcoming marriages, and keep them supplied with money for "living expenses" in the afterworld (this is why you'll often see people burning silver "ghost money"). The living also have a wider and more general obligation to the dead, because neglected spirits (often called "hungry ghosts") have the power to wreak havoc in the world of the living, especially during the seventh month on the lunar calendar, a dangerous period known as Ghost Month.

If you ask Taiwanese aquaintances whether they've seen a ghost or believe in them, a surprising number will answer in the affirmative. Many children wear protective amulets (often small pouches containing incense ash from a major temple) at the behest of their parents or grandparents.

The chunky bracelets you'll see quite a few Taiwanese wearing usually have a semi-religious function. Round wooden beads are worn by Buddhists, while semi-precious stones and crystals are favored by individuals who believe those materials can protect or aid them. Clear crystal is thought to boost powers of concentration and memorization. Yellow crystal has properties that protect the lungs, so it's popular with those who smoke. Many temples sell amulets and good-luck charms.

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Location: Taiwan

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