Spirit Money

The use of spirit money in different rituals is deeply rooted in Asian culture. The bank notes can be printed in various styles, i.e. showing currencies like the Chinese Yuan, US Dollar, Thai Baht or Vietnamese Dong. The afterlife money is known for its large denomination, at times up to various billion dollars. The face of the note often sports a portrait of the Jade Emperor and the reverse an image of the ‘Bank of Hell’. It is meant for use by the more recently dead and other relatives and as an offering to the Judge of the Dead. The use of the English word ‘Hell’ in the ‘Bank of Hell’ and ‘Hell Money’ is probably an imperfect reference to the underworld and the court of the dead. Upon death, all souls are first sent to the underworld where their eternal fate is determined by the judge Yan Wang. The ghost money is intended, in part, as a gratuity of sorts to the judge in the hope that he will adjudicate their ancestors case favorably and lighten the length of their stay in the underworld.