Joss - Encyclopedia


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JOSS, in the pidgin-English of the Chinese seaports, the name given to idols and deities. It is used adjectivally in regard to 1 A prefect of Jerusalem of this name is mentioned by Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 20.3.

many things connected with religious rites, such as "joss-house," a temple; "joss-stick," a stick which when burned gives forth a fragrant odour and is used as incense; "joss-paper," paper cut to resemble money (and sometimes with prayers written upon it) burned in funeral and other ceremonies. "Joss" is not a Chinese word, and is probably a corruption of Port. deos, god, applied by Portuguese navigators in the 16th century to the idols worshipped in the East Indies. The Dutch form is joosge (diminutive of joos), whence the Javanese dejos, and the English yos, later joss. The word seems to have been carried to China by English seamen from Batavia.

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