"Nanyin" is an ancient form of music still popular in Quanzhou regions of Fujian Province. Most songs are usually rather slow-paced, and if singing is required, the singer will be singing in Quanzhou dialect, which may not be easily understandable even by the mainstream Hokkien audience. Among our musicians, only one or two have a bit of experience in playing Nanyin music, so the rehearsal wasn’t progressing quite well, and at times the music sounded weird. All of a sudden, one of our troupe members, who was sitting together with some other members at a corner of the room, commented that the music reminded her of “void deck party” (typical Chinese funeral gatherings). Although she was merely joking, and everyone by the table was laughing away at her comments, I found it very offensive and rude. No doubt the music was not up to standard, but to compare it to funeral music is something I find quite unacceptable.
I was reminded of an incident which took place in China about a year ago whereby a group of “Hanfu” fanatics wore Hanfu and walked in public in Wang Fu Jing. “Hanfu” is the traditional clothing system for the ethnic Chinese which dated back over a thousand years, but died during the rise of the Qing dynasty. “Hanfu” is also considered the predecessor of the Japanese kimono and the Korean traditional costumes. This group of “Hanfu” fanatics were spotted by a reporter, and one of the ladies in the group was being captured by camera and published under the caption “Net friends touring Wang Fu Jing in traditional ’Hanfu’ costumes in an attempt to create ethnic awareness of traditional Chinese costumes”. Many other online news portals started to mirror this picture and news as well, but one particular news portal had the whole story twisted. In their news portal, they had the same picture, but the caption was “Youths touring Wang Fu Jing in traditional ’Shouyi’ costumes in an attempt to revive the ancient Chinese funeral system”. After this twisted news was published, the lady in the photograph was so emotionally stressed that she dared not wear her favourite Hanfu again, as “Shouyi” is actually a kind of clothing meant to be worn by the dead for funeral. It wasn’t until her supportive net friends persuaded her to take legal action against the culprits that she was back to her self.
In short, it seemed like a small issue, but the consequence is big. One may think it is funny, or perhaps one really find a bit of resemblance to that meant for the dead, but it would be nice if they just keep the remarks to themselves. After all, if they were the ones to be made references to, I don’t think they’ll like it either!