Thursday, September 11, 2008

History - Sarikei Cantonese Association at Sare, 1885. Part II

Sare 沙里 is 20 km from Sarikei 泗里奎 downtown. You can reach Sare via the Merudong Road of Jakar. A team of Cantonese including the existing temenggong Chan Pak Seng 陳柏勝 made a trip to Sare on 10th June 2007 with the objectives of a) observing the site of the soon to built Cantonese memorial and b) tracing the Cantonese roots.


Sare Trip report.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
Source: Sarikei Cantonese Association 122th Anniversary Issue, Dec 2007


Firstly, they observed the hill across from San Min 三民 primary school at Sare. This school's name translates into "Three People/Citizen" which is very likely referring to the 3 prefectures 府 of the GuangDong province where the original Sarikei Cantonese came from. The 3 prefectures are Guang 府, Hui 惠府 and Zhao 肇府. The 3 characters form 惠肇 (pronounced as kong wei siew in Cantonese) and is used as the name for the Cantonese Association.

The hill, facing the main road, was the site of the old Sare graveyard and will be the location of the memorial. They observed that the lane leading to the hill needs to be widen for cars to pass and for a gantry to be build.


The earliest Cantonese tombstone at Sare graveyard.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
Source: Sarikei Cantonese Association 122th Anniversary Issue, Dec 2007


The pavilion at the top of the hill had a tombstone inscribed with the words 廣東義塚之墓, 大清光諸戊申年新建, 眾弟子同立.  It's estimated to be 100+ years old from the 19th century Great Qing 大清 dynasty era, aka Manchu Dynasty.

(Updated with translation):
Tomb mound of 義 (Yi) from Canton, first built in the year of 戊申 AD 1908 under Emperor 光諸 GuangXu in Great Qing Dynasty, set up by the master’s “students”.


Sare River - "Office House" is next to the buah isu durian tree (right).
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
Source: Sarikei Cantonese Association 122th Anniversary Issue, Dec 2007


The Sare River was nearby the school and could be reached via a small lane off the main road. It's about 20 feet wide and the water was very clear and the tide was receding. There were 2 boats parked by the river and greenery on both sides of the river formed a picturesque sight. Across the river was a buah isu 莫依叟 wild durian tree that stood as sentinel for the original location of the "office house" - the site of first Cantonese Association which was established in 1885.

The "office house" was where the Cantonese pioneers gathered, took care of the community and its business practices. The Cantonese Association has decided to honour these pioneers with a memorial so that future generations will have a better understanding of the association.

Can the next person to Sare please bring back the good memories and a wild durian or two?

6 comments:

45rpm said...

Temenggong Chan Pak Seng 陳柏勝? Is he not the Son-in-law of Ah Bu 阿武 Mr 張武祥 of 成吉 Seng Kit No 23 Repok Rd ? We just cover the father-in-law last week, actually we are covering one son-in-law after another son-in-law.

Mr Chan is from a prominent Cantonese family in Binatang. His father was such a strong and big guy who can carry the biggest sack of rice even in his 70s if you ever bought from his shop.

nelson said...

temenggong himself is quite big in size. =)

Daniel Yiek said...

Yes, Temenggong Chan Pak Seng 陳柏勝is the son-in-law of Ah Bu 阿武 (張武祥) of 成吉 Seng Kit of No 23 Repok Rd. I used to play around this shop as kid.

廣東義家之墓, 大清光諸戊申年新建, 眾弟子同立, 戊甲年新建重建...is translated as

Tomb of 義 (Yi)family from Canton, first built in the year of 戊申under Emperor 光諸 GuangXu in Great Qing Dynasty, set up by the master’s “students”, re-built in the year of 戊申.

Emperor 光諸 GuangXu ruled from 1875-1908.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guangxu_Emperor

See whether you can decipher 戊甲from the old way of using Chinese calendar

http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/calendar/chinese.shtml#sex

Daniel Yiek said...

I found the answer to the year of the tomb. Feel free to comment.

光諸戊申 = 1908 and then rebuilt in 戊申 = 1968. 戊申 is a 60-year cycle in the old Chinese calendar. The four nearest years are 1848, 1908, 1968, 2028.

They put the Qing emperor's name there, 光諸 GuangXu, who ruled from 1875-1908...which means the year was 1908. You can search 光諸戊申 in Chinese search engine, www.baidu.com , and some websites showed 1908.

This is not surprising if you consider the earliest Cantonese to Sare settled down before 1885 (let's say 1885 minus 10-20 years). The people then didn't live very long and hence the tomb of 1908 was for a man of reasonable longevity around that time. It depended on how old he was when he arrived in Sare. This man could be 40-50 years old when he passed away.

James Yong said...

Very interesting write-up, Daniel. Great job.

I have a question on a Cantonese man named Lau Chek (or Lau Chiek or Lau Ah Chiek) whom I wonder if u have come across any information on. He came to Sarawak supposedly in 1830, first arriving at the Batang Lupar area. He later moved to Kuching. At some point he served as a servant or steward to Rajah James Brooke.

Why am I interested? He's my maternal great-grandfather.

Daniel Yiek said...

James,
Are you from Sarikei too?

The only info I have on Lau Chek is based on what I saw at the Chinese Museum in Kuching's riverfront. European sources name him as the first Chinese to settle in Kuching and served as Rajah James Brooke's steward. From Rajah James Brooke's period in Sarawak which is well documented, you can have an idea of when he lived in Kuching.

Let me email you the info I captured.

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