Sending the Spirits Home, 2021

Sending the Spirits Home
Paste paper, Chinese calligraphy ink, rice paper, tracing paper, ink pochoir
Closed: 5″ x 7″ x 0.5″
Fully open: 30″ x 7″ x 5″

Sending the Spirits Home honors the Chinese holiday of 中元節 (Jung Yuan Jit) or, Hungry Ghost Festival. It’s thought that during this period just after the summer and right before autumn, the gates of heaven and hell open up and the spirits of those who have passed join in celebrations and merrymaking in the world of the living. It is a spooky sort of holiday, in which it is possible for the living to accidentally and prematurely join the world of spirits, and for the living to accidentally invite lonely spirits into the home and become haunted by them (as a result, many precautions are taken to avoid these scenarios). It is also a beautiful holiday, in which families pay respects to ancestors, and even those who are no longer with us–regardless of whether they have descendants–are honored and remembered during this holiday. At the end of Hungry Ghost Festival, lanterns are lit and placed on the water and floated into the sky, and these lanterns help guide the spirits back home to rest.

This book can be viewed in full light or backlit, so that the lantern cutouts may glow and reflect onto the surrounding areas.