April 4 is Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming), a tradition that goes back thousand of years. Families visit ancestral tombs and make offers of food. Paper replicas depict items that can be used in the afterlife, such as clothing, money, and cars, are burned. Over the years, this tradition has evolved with the times as evident by a recent must-have paper replica: the iPad.
About two years ago, retailers in China began offering paper replicas of iPhones and iPad.
"The paper iPhones and iPads sold are the same size as the real ones with a whole complete package of components like headphones," an online retailer told AFP. Made from high quality paper, they even have a realistic headphone jack.
The paper iPads are not cheap, costing 538 yuan (US$82). The iPhone replica is cheaper, costing 22 yuan ($3.34).
It's not only Apple hardware. There are paper replicas of digital cameras, cell phones, laptops, European cars, private jets, and luxury brand name wallets available for purchase. Some in China criticize the practice, finding it wasteful and showy.
The replicas, however, fall into a gray legal zone as, according to China Daily, a 1997 law outlaws the production and selling of them as they're seen to be superstitious. Many retailers, thus, operate in rural villages or online.
According to the Beijing Morning Post, people are purchasing and burning these replicas to "let the dead relatives feel the development of the society."