Chinese memorial stone, ceremonial oven and headstone, Weldborough

Ancestor worship was an important feature of Chinese culture and Confucian religion, being a mechanism of clan ownership of land and permeating the social structure and ideology of ancient China. Most of the Chinese in northeast Tasmania carried on their customs and buried their dead in the traditional manner making only the adjustments required of them by the laws of the land. Whenever possible the bones of the deceased were exhumed and sent back to China to reside in the ancestral burial grounds. It was common practice for those who could afford the journey to return to China to die.

The cemetery contains a memorial erected by the local Chinese community to their dead and a number of Chinese graves. Only one grave bears a headstone engraved with Chinese characters but it is very likely that there are many unmarked Chinese graves in the cemetery.
From “Tasmania’s Chinese Heritage: an historical record of Chinese Sites in North East Tasmania”, by Helen Vivian


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Lu Puh, a Chinese Burial (Charles Street, Launceston)

INTERMENT OF THE REMAINS OF LU PUH. —The conduct of the countrymen of the Chinese digger Lu Puh, whose murdered remains were discovered at Back Creek is highly creditable to them. They were discovered by Lee Hung, the leader of part of six men at work at Back Creek, and during the excitement which prevailed until after the inquest, all tho witnesses and other visitors at the inquest were treated with liberal hospitality by Lee Hung. He and his countrymen defrayal all expenses incurred in the removal of the body to town and its internment. The remains were covered with calico, over which were placed a shirt, hat, trousers, socks and pair of buff slippers, but no coat, the deceased having been killed when at work. What use the spirit of the deceased maybe make of his new suit, Confucius only knows, but the liberality of his friends is not lessened by the apparent, absurdity of supplying such a costume for use in another sphere. The coffin was conveyed to the cemetery, Mulgrave-square, four Chinese following in a car. After careful interment, but without any ceremony, a board was placed at the top of the grave bearing this inscription in Chinese characters :– La Puh, native of Canton, discovered murdered at Back Creek, or 29th October, 1873.” Lee Hung has since ordered a tombstone to be prepared to be substituted for the board, and he is at present at work at the stores of Messrs. Peters, Barnard and Co. making a substantial wooden fence to surround the grave of his countryman. We fear that few Europeans would be found acting so disinterestedly, and doing so much for the honor and comfort of a dead countryman as the much abused “Heathen Chinese”.
Cornwall Chronicle, 14 November 1873


Charles Street Cemetery Company Treasurer’s Register,
AF191-1-1

Beechworth Cemetery

Taken one winter morning in 2009 (but not as early as the camera thinks).

Website.

The 1850’s gold rush saw many Chinese nationals converge on Beechworth seeking their fortune. As the population grew so too did the need for specialised services to cater for their cultural needs. A section of the Beechworth Cemetery was allocated for burial with the burning towers built in 1857. Mourners used the towers to burn offerings of paper prayers, pork and gifts for the afterlife.
Chinese Burning Towers
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