Hell Bank Notes are a unique type of joss paper, which are mainly used as afterlife monetary offerings to the dead and for luck in traditional Chinese ancestor prayers. These notes can are printed in Western style and are normal paper bank notes.
There exists a certain belief that Hell Bank Notes are also offered to the deceased to get into the good books of King of Hell in order to escape harsh punishment and live a better life.
The burning of hell bank notes is based on the common Chinese belief to ensure that the spirits of the deceased in the afterworld can enjoy a luxury life with all the hell bank notes being offered to them, which are actually money to spend in their afterworld. In addition, their family also burns other offerings such as paper presents or cars etc. for their deceased to enjoy in the afterworld.
There are several ways to offer this spiritual money to the deceased. Firstly it can be thrown to the winds during the funeral procession, Secondly, it can be left on a grave at any time, and thirdly, it can be burned in ceremonial fires during the yearly Hungry Ghost Festival.
The difference which separates Hell Bank from notes and our daily currency notes is perhaps that Hell Bank notes have enormously big values that range from $10,000 to even $500,000,000. Printed On every hell bank note is a portrait of the Jade Emperor and his signature. Printed on the back of the note would be an image of the bank of Hell.
In the older times, the Chinese believed that 'Hell' was the proper term for the world after death and hence settled upon the word. In addition, Chinese mythology believes that the dead will all enter the underworld to be accessed before the decision to either be sent to heaven, nirvana, or to be punished in the underworld or even be reincarnated into the next life. Hence, hell bank notes usually have the 'Hell' word printed on it and in special cases; the word is replaced with 'heaven' or 'paradise'.
The most famous and frequently bought Hell Note is probably the $10,000 greenback. There is also a serial number on all Hell Bank greenbacks, which is J023456.
Certain stores also sell notes that feature many other immortal beings, such as Buddha, the Eight immortals, the Yama King etc. Such notes are usually packed in 30 to 50 bills wrapped in cellophane and sold to the public.
However, there are certain considerations to be taken on the usage of Hell Bank Notes. According to the Chinese, one should never present a hell bank note as a souvenir or a gift, as it will be treated as a huge insult to that person.
Secondly, Hell Bank Notes have to be kept in places where it is not easily seen for example, drawers or cupboards. Leaving such notes lying around brings about bad luck.
Thirdly, while burning the notes, one should give full respect to it treating them like real money and place them nicely into the fire, ensuring that the notes are not in a loose bundle. This is according to the superstition that the burning of real money gives bad luck too.