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Three Grains of Rice and Some Gold

Thi My Lien Nguyen
2021 - ongoing

“Three Grains of Rice and Some Gold" explores themes of loss, grief, and healing in the context of migration and (after)care. The title holds cultural significance, symbolizing a departure ritual that involves placing three grains of rice and gold paper in the mouth of the deceased before their journey to Nirvana. 

This work examines rituals and customs from both the artist’s sinosphere and occidental cultural backgrounds, reshaping perspectives on identity, displacement, and belonging within the diasporic community. 

The recent loss of a beloved family member revealed the cultural diversity within the family, with half identifying as Catholic and half as Buddhist, a result of past assimilation attempts. This period prompted introspection about reconciling these contrasting beliefs. The exploration of various cultural practices became transformative, offering a way to process grief and connect to a larger context.
It is about embracing the fluidity of existence, sharing stories as well as an attempt to break the cycle of inherited trauma.

"Each year, we come together on my grandfather's death anniversary. We prepare a meal in his memory, recalling his likes and dislikes, favorite dishes, his personality... The food is then placed on the ancestor's altar, and we wait until the incense sticks have burned down. Afterward, we share a heartwarming family meal, keeping the memory of my late grandfather alive."

"Three Grains of Rice and Some Gold" aims to inspire others to embrace their cultural heritage and contribute to collective healing. It encourages discussions on preserving and adapting customs to the present day while fostering a sense of calm, acceptance, and renewal within communities.

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