Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/314

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Terms Relating to Death and Burial.

As we use the word lead to indicate coffin—"all thy friends are lapped in lead"—so the Chinese use the word mu, wood. Thus the phrase ju-mu ((Symbol missingChinese characters)) is to put into wood, to coffin. The name shou-pan ((Symbol missingChinese characters)), long life boards, is given to the coffin which an old man provides for himself or friends present to him. The proper number of these boards or pieces of wood is six, and a coffin made of so many is called a ch'uan-ch'êng ((Symbol missingChinese characters)), a perfect city-wall, that is, one not having any opening. In some places this name is given when eight pieces are used, but it is then improperly applied. Among literary people there are several other common designations by which the coffin provided during life is mentioned or described. Such are i-chia ((Symbol missingChinese characters)) and p'i-kuan ((Symbol missingChinese characters)), derived from the old classics. The i, chia and p'i are all trees yielding valuable timber, and the first was specially employed as impervious to water in making one of the coffins in which the body of a sovereign was interred.

A small coffin is called sui ((Symbol missingChinese characters)) or tu ((Symbol missingChinese characters)), or sui-tu, these two words having the same meaning, viz., a chest or box. The cases in which the bones of soldiers are sent from the place of death to their homes are called sui or tu, and the latter word is used also for the case in which a dead animal, for example a horse, is buried.

There are also special names to designate a coffin which is occupied. Thus the term tzŭ-kung ((Symbol missingChinese characters)) is applied to the coffin which contains the body of an Emperor deceased and not yet buried. The term means "the palace of tzŭ" a valuable wood, hard and lasting. The word chiu ((Symbol missingChinese characters)), noticed above, is often used in the sense of a coffin with its corpse. The word perhaps originally denoted merely a coffin ready or on its way to burial. We read of meeting a chiu on the road, of following one to the tomb, and it is an old rule not to sing when looking in the direction of one ((Symbol missingChinese characters)). The epithet ling, of supernatural efficacy, is very often prefixed to chiu, as to other objects connected with the dead, and by itself ling may be used to denote all that is expressed by chiu. Other common terms for a tenanted coffin are pin ((Symbol missingChinese characters)), already noticed with another meaning, and