Hmong Funeral Rites and The Space Between
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The sacred has always been a part of human life from the beginning of time. Religion and faith throughout the timeline has driven multiple major revolutions. They have answered questions that could not be answered, but now in this modern age, the need of the sacred seem to be diminishing with the discoveries of science and progress. The modern age may be calling for a new sacred, a sacred that is not related to religion and faith but a sense of understanding one’s self. The deeper calling of the question we ask ourselves that may never be answered by science, the afterlife. Thus every culture has come to deal with it their own individual way. When an individual passes we perform the appropriate rituals to mourn, to commemorate, and sometimes to celebrate their transcendence beyond our world. As Hans-Georg Gadamer says “We could perhaps even say that this experience initiated the process of our becoming human. As far back as human memory extends we can recognize as an undisputed characteristic of human beings that they perform some kind of funeral rites.” in his book The Enigma of Health. As Jon Cannon from The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces states “The architecture might be intended to replicate the features of the sacred landscape in which it is set, or to represent a culture’s deepest ideas about the ordered nature of the cosmos and humankind’s place within it, from earthly life to the ultimate mystery of what lies beyond mortal death.” Architecture in many senses has provided the space for these rituals, or maybe the other way around. These spaces has provide the opportunity for architecture. But we can’t disagree that where there are these rituals there is architecture. In the past these spaces has always emitted a sense of holiness and transcendence. In the present time, in the Hmong community, these spaces have become dull and plain. It does nothing in educating the young and providing an aesthetic for such rituals. This thesis provides a sublime sacred space to educate and enlighten the younger and present Hmong generation. The analysis of precedent spaces will be used to engrain elements and concepts into the design. The study of people and such spaces will help us understand why these spaces are diminishing. The need to embrace one’s roots and recognize one’s descendants may be the answer to transcending one’s self.