April 2, 2012

9 Open Jars @ Kwong Foo Cemetery (Kerto)



The Kwang Foo Cemetery of Kerto is a very unique cemetery. Managed by the Cantonese or KwongTung Associaiton of Sibu it is a cemetery for any one who wanted to bury their dead there. Graves including Ibans and Melanaus are found here along side Kutien and Teochew to name a few of the Chinese dialectic groups. It is also known as the earliest cemetery with one grave marked as early as 1880's.


So many of the graves are marked with Qing Dynasty Calendar years. Some are marked with the Nationalist Chinese Calendar years.

A very unusual feature is the presence of NINE open jars in front of several early graves.

We are still trying to research its significance and meaning.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Were these jars for storing the bones?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

We have been making guesses so far...

Anonymous said...

Or are those Iban burial jars??

Sarawakiana@2 said...

No they are not Iban burial jars because these jars are in front of a Chinese grave. There are several other such arrangements. Rows of jars in front of a single grave.

the Iban graves have roofs.

Anonymous said...

wonder how the whole jar looks like....

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I think the whole jar would be the normal dragon jar (for rice and rice wine) but these would have been made in China and the Iban longhouses would be able to show case these kinds of jars. Later Ng Siang Hup and Co. founded their pottery nearby and became a much visited attraction.

Ann said...

my 2 pence,
don't think there is any bones in it.

Don't think the foochows and the cantonese were buried together. At that time, the two dialect groups fought to the extent to killing one another.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann
Thanks for the pennies.

No I really don't think there are bones in the jars. It could be for decoration or for worshipping purposes...I still have to research this.

Kwong Foo (according to the plaque there) is Cantonese and Fujian...) probably is the only venture the rival groups had together in the early days. ai ya...sigh sigh... How to be united like this? Sun Yat Sen did try his best and he did help to abolish the dynastic feudal system....

Ann said...

I stand to be corrected after reading the comments in your FB. Perhaps, in the beginning, the Brooke Govt gave them only this "hill" to use as burial grounds. Like it or not, they had to bury their dead together, until things got so bad.

I knew of relatives, single man, in our dialect, the YAYOs, the moment, they hear of "fight the Foochows" they drop everything and go off to fight. A Sweet potato relative actually went down to join the Sarikei cantonese to fight the foochows and were killed.

I know my Ah Kung was scolding his dead body, you silly boy, I took you out of China for a better life for fear of being killed by the ibans, you go and fight your own people and get killed by your own people.

Can you find out the cemetry at Bukit Timah, at lanang road, was it combined Chinese cemtery or a cantonese cemetry?

Ann said...

I know for sure the " new" Sungei Aup, or rock mountain, the Cantonese bought a hill for themselves in the 70s. My Kung was buried there. He moved the little grave of my decease 4th uncle who drown at 4, from Bukit Limah (edit last comment, Bukit Timah is in Singapore)to be with him, for the convenience of the future generations.

Ann said...

what abt that Facebook post that someone stated that the Foochows do not have their own cemetery. Is there any truth in it.

Ann said...

We also have a joke about a family member who became a foochow because he was buried NOT in the Cantonese cemetery.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

hAHAHA Ann -- I really like your Ah Kung....I will try to find out more when I visit the Lanang Road or Bukit Lima Cemetery and take a few photos for you...at the moment of writing I believe that is mainly (?) a Cantonese cemetery.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Sg. Aup Cemeteries are owned by various dialectic associations. Will post a photo of the names of the associations for you later. yOUR Ah Kung was really a wise man...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I did ask a few questions..there is a Kwong Yong Society's Cemetery which is mainly for the Foochows and other Methodist Cemeteries..but we actually do not have AS YET a Foochow Association Cemetery. The Fu Kiu (West Malaysian owned ) cemetery is where the rich Foochows are now buried. (?? :) :)!!! )Now how do you read the Foochow mentality from here? Issue is being debated fiercely in Sibu now.....The new head of the Foochow Association in Sibu is getting a mighty headache.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ai yo..Ann..If I get buried in an Ang Mo cemetery I become Ang Mo ...LOL. No offence..Most cemeteries are religion based actually...e.g. land law regulating burials usually refer to religion...e.g. Anglican church given land to bury their Anglican dead (regardless of race).

In some school registration..Hokkiens/Cantonese are Chinese by race...we Foochows are Foochow by race..!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Input from Wong Meng Lei -----Sibu was established at 1862, this Kwan Fu Shan cemetery was set up 5 years later ie 1867. The earliest tomb stated the same year.
--------Mr CC Chua recorded the study tour organised by Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association in 1993 and 1995.

Anonymous said...

I am sure there have been chinese in sibu long before 1862. kanowit was earlier than sibu, right? Min-nan people must have been to sibu earlier than cantonese. if going to kwantung ba, you may be able to find out more about the cemetery.... i think it would be nice if every grave will be photoed and have a collection of graves... who is the earliest in sibu.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous
Thank you for your input and your suggestions. Perhaps it could become a project for some of the Associations of Sibu!! What a good idea!!God bless

Ann said...

The stone mountain at sg Aup, may be have many hills. The hill my grand dad wass buried is definitely a Cantonese hill. I think they fundraised for the hill, then plots were free for people who were members to claim. Even my parents claimed a double plot. A joke, my Dad had a plot in Sibu, a plot in Australia when my mum died, and his final resting place in Kuching, the Nivara??, a very expensive plot. It was in a mixed area. My sis M says, this is Malaysia, esp for my dad, in life his neighbours were all kinds of Malaysian, Ibans, Malays, Foochows etc. Therefore it was fitting he was buried among them too, when questioned by an uncle why he wasn't buried among the Christians. We just found it amusing and didn't care as we also become an "Angmo" even before we were buried there. heheh

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes Sg. Aup has many "hills". I like the Cantonese way...free plot for burial for members.

Some people say..you cannot chose to be born..but you might be able to choose where you can be buried..a final resting place..I am keeping a very open mind about this...may be I will just be a free spirit in the Rajang..and "haunt" some people there...hehehe

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