Business / Industries

Beijing sees surge in cemetery price

By Cai Xiao/WANG ZHENGHUA (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-03 07:31

Ashes to ashes ... or into outer space

· Stored in a statue

A company in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, used to make statues of the deceased from photographs and conceal the ashes inside. Owner Zhu Jun said he came up with the idea several years ago when he tried to find another way to preserve the ashes of his parents.

The statues would cost anywhere from 3,000 yuan ($480) to several million yuan, depending on the materials used. But Zhu suspended his business half a year ago after finding few customers. "Maybe I will re-launch the service when more people find it acceptable."

· Buried under a plant

One "green funeral" method being promoted in many cities is to bury the ashes under flowers or a tree in a specially cultivated forest. Plants such as osmanthus, camphor, prune, pine or cypress trees are cultivated on mountains or in empty fields, and dozens of the departed can rest forever under the same plant.

In Lianzhou, Guangdong province, a woman surnamed Xu buried the ashes of her parents, husband and brother-in-law under a camphor tree last year.

However, civil affairs department workers in many locations said that such burials do not serve the intended purpose of returning the remains to nature, because many survivors decline to use degradable cremation urns, and mount separate gravestones for their loved ones.

· Made into a diamond

Nianshiqing, a company based in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, will create a diamond from cremation ashes or hair. Available in five colors, the memorial diamonds use carbon extracted from the ashes or hair.

The company charges 7,000 yuan to 99,800 yuan to make gems ranging from 0.03 to 1.25 carats.

A few agents in other parts of China also offer to transform ashes into accessories such as pendants. Li Yitian, a resident of Chongqing, made a 0.27 carat diamond with her mother's ashes and used the diamond in a ring. "Because it's mom, I don't feel scared," she said.

· Sent into outer space

A Beijing undertaker offers China's first space burial service, with the cheapest package starting at 5,600 yuan.

The ashes are shipped to the United States and put into lipstick-sized capsules, each weighing no more than 7 grams, according to Xu Yi, one of the founders of Biian, which literally means "the other shore".

Clients can go to the US to view the launch but must pay their own travel expenses. They can also download an app that will track their loved one's remains in space.

The price varies depending on where the remains end up. The 5,600 yuan package sends the ashes into orbit for 30 to 50 weeks before the capsule falls back to Earth. The most expensive package, at 75,000 yuan, will launch the ashes on a voyage through deepest space, on what the company promises is a "permanent celestial journey".


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