As the funeral ceremony begins, Hu begins to cry. I didn’t know the deceased at all, a farmer who died at the age of 67 from heart failure, but tears come to his eyes. She looks very distressed, broken with pain. She dressed in a pristine white suit, the same one traditionally worn by grieving relatives at many funerals in ChinaHu finds it difficult to release his eulogy because his voice is torn by sobs.
“You were a good man, a good husband, a good father and a good grandfather,” he says, microphone in hand, as he crawls along the ground until he reaches the coffin. “We never thought you would be gone so soon. You have left this world full of love. You were like a tall tree that protected your children from the wind and rain.”
After her words, the woman, again in tears, approaches the relatives of the deceased and grabs the widow’s hands, who thanks her for supporting the family in those sad moments. “Young people no longer know how to cry, that’s why we needed the right mourner”the widow whispers to him.
Hu Xinglian is a fifty-something actress who gets paid to cry at strangers’ funerals. She is a professional mourner in Chongqing, a city in southwestern China. She has been doing that job for a decade and has earned more money than she did in her time acting in the theater. For half an hour at a funeral, he takes more than 250 euros. Your performance package includes a complete spontaneous, which literally means to cry and scream. “Our entry into the world is extraordinarily dramatic and loud, so our exit from this world must also be the same,” she says.
Without a doubt, Hu’s work is one of the strangest. But researchers say references to these professional mourners are found in ancient Chinese writings even during the Han dynasty, more than 2,000 years ago. Unemployed actors are usually those hired by families. Some only go to cry, even in a group to make it seem like the deceased had friends who appreciated him very much. Others, in addition to forcing crying, put on a whole sound and visual spectacle. Everyone present knows that it is a performancebut the tears have to be felt and the pain seem authentic.