The background is a rubber garden.
The Chinese characters are important in this photo. My grand uncle and grandfather had put their name in the inscription for the Photo commemorating the 60th birthday of their father. The calendar used by the Foochow pioneers at that time was the Republic of China (Under Sun Yat Sen) Calendar or the Mingkuo Calendar. If it is Mingkuo Year 20 it would be 1911+20 or 1931 in our Georgian Calendar. Muslims would have to work it out by deducing from the Muslim calendar. The months and dates however would be the same the normal/Georgian calendar. (It has been pointed out to me that the year is definitely missing in this photo).
This is one proof that my grandfather's brother (Tiong Kung Eng) truly existed. As there was no other photo of his in existence. What a pity! Grand Uncle Kung Eng's grave is in the Methodist Episcopal (Mee Yee Mee) Cemetery in Sungei Merah.
Interestingly in the photo the whole family was wearing Republic of China costumes - Sun Yat Sen suit for my great grandfather and the normal Chinese cotton clothes for the others. All these clothes must have been sewn by my great grandmother (a well known seamestress then and had passed her sewing skill to my grand aunt Yuk Ging who later made cheongsams and frocks by hand for almost every one in our family) and my grandmother who had to make so many clothes for so many children very frequently). But my great grandfather's suit was probably sewn by one of the Sibu tailors. Cloth was bought in bales at 40 cents a Chinese yard (Chien).
Great Grandfather had leather shoes ( a mark of his wealth by then) and the others wore white canvas or cotton shoes. Great Grandmother wore her bound feet leather shoes which she must have ordered from Singapore or China. Normally she would wear her own cloth made shoes. This was a time when most of the Foochow children did not wear shoes at all. I remember one of my relatives telling us that he did not wear shoes until the 1950's. When he went to school he was barefooted.
Photographs help people in many ways. For me it helps me reconstruct our historical background and help us learn more about the times our ancestors lived in. It makes me happy to see faces of loved ones whether they have passed on or are still alive.
I really love old photographs and will work harder to find and digitalize them for the future generation.
We must be able to learn to respect our ancestors and bless them for shaping our present lives. God has a great purpose for all of us.