Ghost marriage is a centuries-old practice (although very rare now) In Chinese culture. If an unmarried woman dies, she will not be entered on a husband’s family registry, and will have no descendants to take care of her spirit in the afterlife. Thus, family members will sometimes find a husband to “marry” the dead woman, to help put her spirit to rest. But in this case, Maria will marry an imaginary man.
A Taoist priest from New Taipei City has agreed to perform a simulated Ghost Marriage for Maria. She will not be marrying a real dead person, but the complete ceremony for a ghost wedding will be performed. Part documentary, part performance art, this promises to be a colorful and fascinating event, and a film of the procedure will be made by Taiwan-based filmmaker Tobie Openshaw.
“As an Asian woman I got a lot of pressure from my mother to get married, and this made me start to wonder about all the rituals and beliefs around marriage. When I heard about ghost weddings in China and Taiwan I was intrigued”, says Maria. “I find the idea of caring for someone even after their death, from offering incense and ghost money, to getting a husband for an unmarried woman, to be fascinating.”
What is marriage? Does our notion of marriage need updating? What is commitment and what does it mean to commit even after death? These are the questions Maria will be asking as she participates in this unique ceremony.
Taipei, Taiwan: June 26 – July 3, 2017
Shanxi, China: July 3 – July 15, 2017