The practice of placing heavily fragranced flowers near coffins to mask the smell of decomposition has morphed into superstition. Photo: SCMP
The practice of placing heavily fragranced flowers near coffins to mask the smell of decomposition has morphed into superstition. Photo: SCMP
Jason Wordie
Opinion

Opinion

Then & Now by Jason Wordie

Chrysanthemums, Oriental lilies, frangipani, ginger blossom – how certain flowers became associated with death, and thus bad luck, in East Asia

  • At a time when crude injections with preservatives merely helped slow the decomposition of bodies, heavily scented flowers were used to mask the smell of death
  • In Hong Kong, such flowers, being associated with funerals, evoke superstitious responses – a fact new arrivals needed to learn to avoid a social misstep

The practice of placing heavily fragranced flowers near coffins to mask the smell of decomposition has morphed into superstition. Photo: SCMP
The practice of placing heavily fragranced flowers near coffins to mask the smell of decomposition has morphed into superstition. Photo: SCMP
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