Pick up gold


Today is the day my grandfather "picks bones".

Picking bones, commonly known as bone relocation, is a burial method of secondary burial and is a local custom in our hometown. After a person's death and burial, the skeletal remains are taken out after several years and placed in a golden tower (a jar made of tiles or ceramics) to be relocated and buried in another auspicious place. This is what picking bones means.

It is understood that this burial method is widely seen in East Asia and was popular during the Dawenkou culture period (3500 BC to 2500 BC). Picking bones is believed to be related to migration culture, allowing migrants to bring the remains of their ancestors to their new place of residence.

I think picking bones is, on one hand, a way to give the deceased a more dignified resting place - living underground, full of insects, is naturally not comparable to a clean and tidy golden tower. On the other hand, it is a spiritual consolation, a way to remember and seek blessings from our ancestors for our own safety and well-being. The small golden tower connects the spirits of our ancestors with our future prosperity. In a country that believes in ancestor worship, this behavior is reasonable.

When I was young, I often saw these kinds of golden towers in many places - secondary burial does not necessarily mean burying them underground, but rather placing them somewhere. People usually choose a sheltered place, around old houses, or among bamboo groves. At that time, I loved to explore and wander around, and I couldn't avoid being frightened by these golden towers.

With the promotion of cremation, this burial method is gradually disappearing. Those who used to place golden towers on the ground are also gradually moving to other places for burial, perhaps due to the awkwardness of display.

When my grandfather was seriously ill, he mentioned the topic of life and death to me countless times - many things, we can't bring them when we are born, nor can we take them when we die. Many people tried to persuade him, saying that he could live for several more years and reach a ripe old age. But he said, "I've lived enough, it's time to die." He also scoffed at the idea of having children to take care of him in old age. I think he was very forward-thinking in many aspects, not conventional, and had a sense of detachment.

Six years ago, I received the news of my grandfather's passing when I was thousands of kilometers away. That night, in the waiting room of the train station, I cried uncontrollably - I no longer had a grandfather, and I could never hear him tell stories again.

With this article, I pay tribute to my grandfather who will always be in my heart.

Death is not the end of life, forgetting is.
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