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Digital Tombstones

Worried about buying an expensive tomb? Rest beneath a QR code instead

The Qingming Festival, also known as the Tomb Sweeping Festival, is not just a three-day holiday. For Chinese people, it’s time to pay homage to their deceased loved ones. Every year, people sweep tombs and offer sacrifices to their ancestors during the Qingming festival.

But all these ancient traditions are much easier when you can just scan a QR code.

On March 26, the Funeral Association of Zhejiang Province held media conference, declaring that Zhejiang will put QR codes on tombstones for the first time. Each dead person could have a QR code, and people who scan the code can learn about the life of the dead person, perhaps through a bibliography or a documentary of the dead, which was made by the family. It’s digital space for the dead person, where people can remember them by uploading pictures of them, reading their bibliography, or writing messages to them. And the website will even send reminders to the family members on some important days like Qingming Festival, Spring Festival or the dead person’s birthday.

“This new service is especially suitable for those ‘naturally buried’ people,” said one worker from the Funeral Association of Zhejiang Province in the interview with Youth Times, a Zhejiang newspaper. The “natural burial” means that people’s ashes are stored in degradable cinerary casket and buried without an individual tomb. Though this economical and environmental method is encouraged by the government, many still feel it goes against traditions. Many say that it isn’t a tomb, and they don’t know where to pay homage to their loved ones. “For those naturally buried people, when there are 20 buried under the same flowerbed, there could be 20 QR codes there. People can pay their respects to them by scanning the particular QR code,” says the worker. It was reported that making one of these QR codes into a copper plate costs around 3,000 RMB.

The internet can do more than that. For those distant family members, they can even order mourners or other goods online, and thus pa others to pay their respects on their behalf. Some people are even willing to live-stream themselves paying respect to your dead relatives.

Will this new tomb-sweeping method become a trend in the future? It’s hard to say. But considering the increasing price for a funeral, well, a QR code is indeed a much cheaper option.


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