The Meaning of "Gu", "Xian", "Kao", and "Bi" On Tombstones

墓碑刻字

During Qingming Festival, have you noticed these characters on tombstones? "Gu", "Xian", "Kao", and "Bi" What do they represent?

“Gu”; As the name suggests this character refers to the past, former, or departed. In ancient times, people often avoided mentioning death directly considering it taboo and disrespectful. Therefore, inscribing "Gu" on tombstones adds a sense of subtlety and respect.

“Xian” represents glory or prominence. If a tombstone bears the character "Xian" it indicates that the deceased was of remarkable status or prominence in life.

“Kao” and “Bi”; According to the "Book of Rites". When alive, one refers to their father, mother, and wife but after death, they are referred to as “Kao”, “Bi”, and “Pin”. This explains that after the father's passing, he is referred to as "Kao” and after the mother's passing, she is referred to as "Bi”.

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Tombstone Facts: What do the inscriptions on the tombstones mean?
Taoism 3 mins

Tombstone Facts: What do the inscriptions on the tombstones mean?

The inscriptions on a tombstone are divided into a middle, top and bottom section, which describe the identity and background of the deceased.