In Chinese tradition, a ghost marriage (Chinese: 冥婚; pinyin: mínghūn; literally: “spirit marriage”) is a marriage in which one or both parties are deceased. Other forms of ghost marriage are practiced worldwide, from Sudan, to India, to France since 1959. The origins of Chinese ghost marriage are largely unknown, though reports of it being practiced in the present day have become more frequent. Whilst Sudanese and French ‘posthumous’ marriage largely revolves around a bereaved widow marrying one of the groom’s brothers or a partner killed in war, the Chinese variant regularly sees the joining in matrimony of a living person and a corpse.
Chinese ghost marriage was usually set up by the family of the deceased and performed for a number of reasons, including the marriage of an engaged couple before one member’s death, to integrate an unmarried daughter into a patrilineage, to ensure the family line is continued…
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