Monday, March 22, 2010

Miniature Houses For The Dead

I always turn on the news channel as I prepare myself for work in the morning. Multi-tasking, it usually takes a lot before I stop my make-up or whatever I am doing to stand before the TV for a particular news item.

Well, Skea Design not only got my full attention this morning, I am posting about it now. See the house in the picture above, they built it, entirely with paper in a very luxurious 1:12 scale and get this, for the Dead!

Let me go back a bit further to tell you about this Chinese tradition of burning effigies for the dead. A long, long time ago, a dead emperor would be buried with whatever he would need to make his afterlife just like the one he had on earth. Sometimes, they would even throw in a favourite concubine or two while they were alive and kicking (and screaming too, I am sure) . That of course was a terribly wasteful exercise and soon, some very very clever people invented paper effigies as substitute offerings.

One of the most commonly burnt effigies are paper houses and a really elaborate one can cost as much as tens of thousands of dollars! I know of friends who had paid over S$30,000.00 for the whole works , house, cars, servants and even mobile phones. Most of these houses are terribly made, butt ugly and seriously, few would want to be caught dead (sic) living in one.

And then came Skea Designs. Go check out their catalogue which by the way is for sale at NT350 (about USD11). You will see houses ranging from

a simple "one room, one hall" type called the "Smart Space Apartment No.1" for
NT14,000 (about USD440)

which comes with 55 pieces of furnishings like " Large Storage Cabinets, more shoes, chairs, kitchen systems (including multi-function microwave oven, smoke-free infrared furnace, super Storage Systems cabinets, a set of cutlery, sinks, faucets, advanced refrigerator) the table group (including a table 2 chairs a fruit plate), TV cabinet, large plasma TV, fashion sofa group (including the two-seater sofa with pillow), fashion sofa table (including remote control, coffee mugs), toilets (including Hotel-class rule-free toilets, pot * 2, Health cartons and toilet paper, paper planes, incorporating multi-functional face wash station group (including wash basin, dual-tap group, Omo up mirror, cabinet, towel), SPA Faucet group, towels and towel racks, a private small balcony (with a lying or sitting on the tatami mat, pillow, pot), Fashion Bed Group (including a bed frame is a mat a bed a pillow 2), large wardrobes incorporating " as translated by Google from their website

BUT no parking space OR

the creme de la creme of "dead" houses, "Deluxe Bali Style Villa"
for a whopping NT160,000 (about USD5,000.00)

with a swimming pool

2 wooden decks (always wanted one for my real house), one over a pond (that too) with
a day bed

not to mention

2 floors with 2 bedrooms together with

74 pieces of furnishings and of course
your own car park.

To ensure that there is after sales service, they have also built a Skea Design Headquarters (HQ) and promptly burnt it on an auspicious day to attend to their "clients". You can watch the burning process here.

I really urge you to go have a look at their work. They are crazy amazing! Skea Design is so profitable they make in 1 month (right after they open for business) what others make in a year. Orders came from as far away as California!

For anyone of you who may want to get me one of these houses as an afterlife gift at the appropriate time, Don't Bother! I will build myself one if I have to. Don't worry about materials either.I will seek employment at the HQ so that the supplies are hopefully limitless.

*All photos (except the 2nd & 3rd) are courtesy of Skea Design.


  1. OMG.... they are so beautiful, it's a pity to burn them. I couldn't stand it! Thank you Sans

  2. Only if the dead really gets it, Rosanna :) but only. I totally agree with your sentiments :)

  3. Thank you very much Sans for this post and the video with the burning house!
    I must say that I'm not sad about the burning of this houses, because I apprechiate rituals and love the clarifying force of the fire. To let go some things is a very good exercise. At least we have to let go everything.
    But as I live in another religious tradition, I don't have to burn things on a funeral, I apprechiate this too.
    thanks again for sharing.
    regards from germany!

  4. Oh, I think it is "at last" and not "at least" - I mostly fail with this two expressions, argh!

  5. Haha Oese :), you know shortly after I published this, the Taiwanese government urged the public to stop burning ritual papers for the dead but to worship online instead :

  6. No sabia que tenias mas blogs. Los agrego a mi lista. Me encanta la coleccion de casas de Skea.

  7. Oh Wow! These are neat houses! And I understand tradition and all, but I just don't think I could watch one burn! Can you image the work that goes into it?? It would break my heart!