啥是冥婚?下面這一篇文章，是三年前曾經刊載在經濟學人網站The Econmist 的文章，作者從清明掃墓一直談到盜墓搶屍。中國近年來的崛起與經濟繁榮，引發了西方人對於中國的研究熱潮。各項研究與報導紛紛出籠。其實冥婚的民俗定義與規範，台灣跟中國不全然相同。下面這篇文章就在探討當今在大陸，由於女屍難求，所以經常會有盜墓者在某些家族舉辦完冥婚，並且將屍體入土下葬後，漏夜挖墳搶奪屍體，好轉賣給他人的事情。
A common burial ceremony for the deceased couple.
Tomb-sweeping and bodysnatching
IN RURAL China, the afterlife來世 is a serious matter. After more than 60 years of Communist Party rule共產黨統治, the festival of Qingming or “tomb-sweeping day清明節”, celebrated on the fifteenth day after spring equinox春分 (April 4th this year), is enjoying a revival再度流行. Though suppressed壓抑 during the Cultural Revolution文化大革命, the festival was reinstated使恢復 as a public holiday in 2008. An important part of traditional filial duty盡孝之道 is to honour the souls of the departed亡靈, and Qingming is the day to tend to打理/整理 a deceased relative’s grave. It is also peak season for “ghost marriages冥婚”, and the time of year when bodysnatching搶屍 proves most lucrative有利可圖/獲利.
Ghost marriage (minghun) is a 3,000 year-old custom傳統 practiced especially in northern China. Huang Jichun, a scholar at Shanghai University who studies Chinese folk traditions民俗傳統, says the majority of rural families農村家庭 in the north, whose relatives die unbetrothed未婚的 , seek “ghost spouses鬼配偶” for the departed. According to custom, the bodies are buried together in a ceremony that is a cross介於 between a wedding and a funeral(介於婚禮與喪禮的儀式). Their ghosts, it is believed, will then no longer be lonely, and the family’s fortunes will be restored家道重振六畜興旺.
In Guangping county of Hebei province河北省 in February of this year, an 18-year-old man surnamed姓 Liu, who died of heart disease, was joined in a ghost marriage with a 17-year-old woman named Wu, who died of a brain tumour. The Liu clan paid 35,000 yuan ($5,600) for the body of Ms Wu, a hefty sum一大筆錢 for a farming family in Hebei where the average income per person is around 5,000 yuan per year. Having never met in life, the two were buried together in death, and dumplings紙錢做的金元寶 were scattered on their grave灑在墳上. Their honeymoon was cut short soon after, however, when grave robbers盜墓者 snatched搶奪 Ms Wu’s body, reselling her into another ghost marriage in a neighbouring province.(盜墓者搶走了已經冥婚完畢的十七歲少女屍體，然後轉賣給鄰近省份的另外一戶人家)
“I hope the robbers get the death sentence or 20 years in prison,” says Ms Liu, the mother of the deceased young man, standing on her mud doorstep in a grey padded jacket灰色棉外套(padded通常是衣服裡面有填充物，此應是棉) and red slippers. Four generations of the Liu clan 家族live in the squat redbrick building behind her. Stagnant rainwater雨後靜止的雨水sits in the mud streets outside聚積在泥巴路上. Old people push bicycles laden with載滿了 empty beer bottles for recycling回收空瓶.
Trade in female corpses屍體 is flourishing興盛(此指年輕女屍的交易活動很活絡) in these poor rural areas. Bodies are typically procured採購through brokers中間人, with the typical quoted price of a fresh corpse剛死的女屍 rising at least 25% in the past five years to 50,000 yuan. A Chinese newspaper last year blamed rich coal mine bosses for driving the cost of a female corpse as high as 130,000 yuan. In 2010, a bodysnatching ring集團/組織 was broken up被查獲/逮捕 in Hebei province. Its members had robbed dozens of graves in the region, earning hundreds of thousands of yuan.
Ghost marriages have long been shrouded in controversy壟罩在爭議當中. A record in the Zhouli周禮, an ancient Confucian text(周禮又稱《周官》，應該是記載周代官制的書籍，也可能是一部理想中的政治制度與百官職守。相傳為周公所作，孔子一生堅決維護周禮) dated from the 2nd century BC, forbids the custom, but there are records of the imperial黃氏家族 family conducting ghost marriages in the Tang唐朝 (618-907AD) and Song宋朝(960-1279AD) dynasties. Under Chairman Mao the custom was labelled superstitious被視為是迷信 and banned明令禁止 outright.
But Mr Huang, the scholar, believes the recent upswing in ghost marriages is in part due to China’s economic boom經濟起飛. Rural families are now better able to afford the steep price高價 of a corpse bride鬼新娘(直譯是屍體新娘) and, says Mr Huang, the resurgent trade交易行為復甦 in bodysnatching has brought a reliable supply of fresh corpses非常足夠的屍體數量 that has spurred consumer demand刺激了客戶的需求.
The Liu family is hoping to lay its ghosts to rest讓死者安息. After arresting four of the five grave robbers, police finally returned Ms Wu’s body to their son, her original ghost husband. Not trusting the geomancy風水, or fengshui, of the couple’s original tomb, the Lius built a new one reinforced with concrete用水泥強化. Alongside the food offerings食物的貢品, they carefully planted a traditional baifan(白幡 - 感謝Mark提供的訊息)–a rod wrapped in white crepe to help guide the ghost couple to paradise. This year, at Qingming, they will visit the couple’s tomb, burn incense燒香 and place dumplings放紙錢元寶. Tragedy struck them in this life. Perhaps, finally, it will leave their loved ones alone in the next.