Koh Ah Bah, Paper effigies

From Penang, Malaysia
20th century AD

Traditionally made for burning during a funeral ceremony

Replicas of motorbikes, telephones, money and other symbols of worldly success are burnt by some Chinese communities outside mainland China, as offerings to recently deceased relatives. They form part of an elaborate funeral ceremony, called Kong Tiek in Malaysia, helping to ease the passage of the souls of the dead through limbo and purgatory. Ready-made paper items can be bought at any time, but special pieces, particularly larger ones, can also be commissioned to reflect the personality of the deceased.

The ensemble was acquired from the Birch and Conran Gallery in London, comprising a mixture of pieces already owned by the dealers and others, such as the man with the motorbike, which were specially commissioned.

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Koh Ah Bah, Paper effigies

© 2001 Koh Ah Bah
Koh Ah Bah, Paper effigies


More information


F. Carey (ed.), Collecting the 20th century, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)


Museum number

Asia 1989.As4.collection



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