Monday, April 4, 2011

Mother with her daughters

The photographs shown on these pages were taken in professional photography studios throughout China (some in Singapore) during the early part of the 20th Century. It can be observed that it did not seem to matter in which city they were taken as the same style dominates the formal frontal poses

Tribute to Grandmother 1935
Tribute to Grandmother by Grandson

This interesting tribute was written by a grandson of the woman sitting in the 1935 photo taken when she was 66 yrs of age. His grandfather, born in 1857, died in 1923, while his grandmother died in 1944. The man’s father, their only son, was born on 1945, and died in 1989. The tribute tells about their lives including that the grandfather was a vegetable vendor and the grandmother did weaving.

Sunday, April 3, 2011



Just over twenty-one years ago the disaster to the Ventnor attracted considerable attention not only in these waters, but overseas. The reason was that,. besides a cargo of coal, this Illfated steamer had almost 500 Chinese bodies (or the remains of bodies) on board which were consigned to China for re-burial.

On October 26, 1902, the Ventnor left Wellington for Hong Kong, but on the following day she struck a rock to the south qf Cape Egmont. The ship started to leak, but nothing could be done to cope with the inrush of water, so she was headed towards Auckland. However, at 9 a.m. on October 28 a bulkhead gave way and the ship had to be abandoned suddenly when about ten miles from the Hokianga Light.. A lifeboat with the master, Captain -H. 6. Ferry, and twelve others aboard was dragged down as the Ventnor sank, but the remainder of the ship's company was saved. In, all there were 40 men on board, nine of them being Chinese body attendants.

The Ventnor, a vessel of .6500 tons gross, belonged to Gow, Harrison, and Company, Glasgow, and had been built in 1899, so she was a comparatively new ship. Her cargo on this trip consisted of -5347 tons of coal consigned to the Admiralty at Hong Kong and valued at £4500, 499 Chinese coffins, and 144 sacks and 22 bales of fungus. The coffins were insured for £5400 and the fungus was insured for £320. It was her first visit to New Zealand. Where she went down the water was particularly deep and salvage was out of the question, so many of the coffins must lie there to this day. ,

A considerable number of the remains of the dead Chinese on board were disinterred at the Karori cemetery arid shipped at Wellington 'for Hong Kong. The Chinese who had been concerned in the shipment here were reported to be very greatly affected at the fate which had overwhelmed the remains of their friends. Evening Post, Volume CXVI, Issue 115, 11 November 1933, Page 22

Poems, and prose, and common talk have acquainted us with the sagacity of the Chinaman. An entry in the export column of the New Zealand Customs returns, however, has recently led to a correspondence which has borne practical testimony to the astuteness of the Chinaman in commercial matters. The whole circumstances' of the case, which are not devoid of interest, are thus told by our contemporary, the ' Wellington Tribune': " Mr Chow Cheng — we be% his pardon, Chow Cheng, Esq.— fungus merchant, is a sort of Ah Sin of commerce. He .does not play euchre, and conceal numerous packs of cards in his capacious sleeves, but 'in ways that are dark 1 he is more peculiar than. Ah Sin himself. Two or three years ago that 'Heathen Chinee' made his appearance in New Plymouth, and developed a new industry. It is well known that in the humid climate of Taranalti fun yus grows in great abundance


SHING LEE Bidgway Street, Wanganui, and at WONG HONG KEW'S, Cuba Street, Wellington, Cash Buyer of Fungus (good price), Old Zind, Copper, &c, &0., GENEEAL GEOCEES, FRUITEEEES, TOBACCONISTS, AND CHINESE MEECHANTS. Just arrived, Silks of all colours A magnificent assortment of Chinese Force- clain, Crockery and Vases, hand-painted by the best Artists in China and Japan. Some Tea Sets, new, good, and cheap. ENLAEGEMENT OF PHOTOGEAPHS Persons wishing for a maginiflcent and everlasting picture .can obtain them at very reasonable prices by sending us the 'hoios, when we will guarantee them a beautiiul hand-painted enlargement by leading Photo Artist in China. Samples of such pictures may be seen on application. A Great Clearing Sale of Fancy Goods will be held for one month. All Goods at lowest prices, Wanganui Chronicle, Volume XXXVII, Issue 11887, 29 September 1893, Page 1

The following notes on the fungus trade of New Zealand appear in a scientific contemporary: — During recent years the exportation of the edible fungus, Hirneola, has become an important industry in New Zealand. This fungus is saucer-shaped, 3into 7in in diameter, reddish brown or the inside whcnuneci, and gray on the outside. It is said that the odour of these plants distinguishes them for botanists, but their chief peculiarity is their growth. They spring up, it is believed, by hundreds and thousands in a single night, being produced, not from seed, but from a spawn which bears organs of fructification. Another peculiarity is that they absorb oxygen and give out carbonic acid, like animals, while other plants absorb the latter and give out the former. The commercial fungus of New Zealand is found in the North Island, on various kinds of decayed timber, all the fungi, it is well known, favoring damp situations. Nine-tenths of the Province of Taranaki, 80 miles by 70 in extent, where it is found, is densely wooded.The plant is found in what is called new bush settlements, made by laborious clearing. Tbe brandies are lopped off and burned, the trunks resting on their own spurs, and sometimes on scaffolds built for them to fall on, begin to decay— not tying prone on the ground — and the fungus grows. It is prepared simply by letting it dry. China is its market, and it was first bought up by collectors at a cent per pound, and sold in San Francisco for fifteen, and in Hong Kong for twenty-three. According to the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong, the fungus is much prized there as a medicine, administered in the form of a decoction to purify the blood ; it has also been reported to be in use in China and Japan as a dye for silks. But its principal use among the Chinese is as an article of food ; it forms the principal ingredient in fheir favorite soup, for which it is highly regarded on account of its gelatinous qualities and its rich flavor. West Coast Times , Issue 4006, 13 February 1882, Page 3
The Colonies and India says— "Among the various articles of trade exported .from New Zealand perhaps the most curious is a species of fungus which grows on decaying trees iii all parts of the North Island, but most plentifully in the provincial district of Taranaki. In shape this fungus resembles the human ear, and it is of a Drown cjopur and semi-transparent when fresh. [It was not deemed of sufficieat importance to be ineluded in the list of colonial exports until 1872, when 58 tons, the value of whichtwas £1.927, were shipped; in 1877, 220 tons, valued at £11,318, were exported; and last year the value of the export was £6,227. China is the destination of this product.' It is much prized there as an article of food, forming the chief ingredient of the favorite soup of that country on account of its gelatinous properties and its peculiar flavour. Whether the immigrant Chinese, who were more numerous in New Zealand five years ago than they are now, discovered the virtues of this fungoid growth, or whether the Maoris, with their naturally keen wit, hit upon the idea that the substance would just suit the peculiar tastes of the Chinese, does not appear. The European in the colony, however, have never acquired a taste for it. To prepare this fungus foe export, nothing morels required than to pick it from the trunks of the trees and dry it in the air or under sheds. When dry, it is packed in bags aud shipped to China by way of Sydney or San Francisco. Very few white men, except those of idle, dissipated habits, collect fungus. The children of the small bush farmers, however, often keep themselves in pocket money by gathering it and selling it to the dealers. The task of collecting it is one, too, which just suits the Maori disposition. When the natives are in want of funds for tobacco, or desire to raise the wherewithal to provide tie large feasts which it is their delight to give periodically, they send out parties to the busVwho; bring in fungus in large quantities' for Sale." Wanganui Herald, Volume XVI, Issue 4562, 9 January 1882, Page 2
THE FUNGUS TEADE (From the New Zealand Herald)
The trade in fungus carried on in this Colony has long afforded food for speculaire discussion as to what uses it was put to by the Chinamen. The attention of the Customs authorities has also been called of late years to the export of fungus from this Colony to China, and inquiries have been instituted as to its destination, use, and value. We have been furnished by Mr Hill, Collector of Customs at this port, with copies of correspondence on the subject, from whi !i we extract the following particulars:—The demand arose in New Plymouth with a Chinese dealer, Mr Chow Ching, who advertised for and first purchased the material; the merchants and traders ot the place, on inquiring of their correspondents in Sydney and other ports where Chinese merchants are established, finding that the article was in demand in any quantity in China, entered into the trade in competition with Mr Chow Ching, and bought of both settlers and f.ho Taori3. Further than this little more is known of it by them as an article of commerce. The price paid in Taranaki has been 2d to 2Jd per ft ; the quantity exported up to last March has been 145 hales, each containing 4501b5, in all about 65,2501b5. Twelve months ago the Hou W. For wrote to the Colonial Secretary, Hongkong, asking as to the «se3 to which the fungus is applied, and as to its marketable value in China. The following reply has lately been received, dated Hongkong, 11th Juns, 1873 :— Colonist , Issue 1730, 17 March 1874, Page 4



An Eltham settler had the curiosity to write to the Chinese Consul in Wellington for information about preparing fungus for culinary purposes. In reply, Mr Yung-Liang Hwang wrote that "according to the usual way we prepare fungus for table, we have it thoroughly washed and dry it for a few minutes, and then fry it with meat, such as beet or pork. It is first fried with lard for a few minutes and the meat (finely cut) is put in and mixed with the fungus and allowsd to stay until they are thoroughly cooked. This is all I know about cooking of fungus. Tie New Zealand fungus is not as good as ours. Yours is harder and thicker and has less flavour thau ours, but it is good for food, if one knows the art of cooking it there may be other ways of cooking it according to the English style, but I am Sony I do not know them myself." Thames Star, Volume XLVII, Issue 10398, 24 June 1911, Page 6