Saturday, January 7, 2012


Unearthing a Shipment for China-Ah Sam's Resurrection Contract. There may be something rational in tho desire of the Chinese to have their bones moulder into dust in the soil of China, but there is nothing human about the manner in which these bones are dug out cf the sand in the City cemetery. There are just now being exhumed the bones of several hundred Mongolians to be sent back to the Celestial kingdom, in accordance with the solemn covenant made by the various Chinese companies with each of their members. From November 17th until yesterday, there have been resurrected at the City Cemetery aboul 180 coffins, with their decaying contents, and this number will probably see a large increase before the year expires. Tbs cause of this wholesale exhumation of bonel is said to be connected with C. C. O'Donnell's election as Coroner. It seems that O'Donnell's anti-Chinese denunciation ha 3 had some influence upon the living Chinese, that in particular they are afraid that he will carry out bis threat of preventing the transfer of human bones to the land of their birth, and that for this reason they c.fB undoing the undertakers' work as fast as possible before the doughty O'Donnell assumes charge of the morgue department of the municipality. Others, however, deny that apprehension of that kind has anything to do with the matters, but say that a combination of circumstances has brought about the transplantation movement. These circumstances are, first, that November and December are "lucky months; second, that a large number of the dead are ripe," having been in the ground for two years or more j third, that the finances of several Chinese companies are in a flourishing condition fourth, thafc freight to China is low; and fifth, that human bones have not been, and are not likely to be, declared contraband of war by the French. But, whatever may be the cause, the fact is that Ah Sam, a semi- Americanised Chinese, has taken a contract to resurrect several hundred of hi 3 deceased countrymen, and that he is now at work carrying out his contract. He has pitched a tent in the plot of the Fook Yam Tong Company, and every morning at 7 o'clock he begins blowing a Chinese immitation of Gabriel's trumpet, with the result that towards evening several waggon-loads of bones, and sometimes more than bones, come rolling into town. Yesterday Ah Sam was digging up the women's corner in the plot. Five living Chinese women were ready to welcomo the planted ones back to light, and whenever a cove would be knocked off the decaying coffins, these Celestial beauties would eagerly bend over the contents, without regard to the direction of the wind, and begin a search for the jewels and money of the late lamented. The first article looked for was generally the coin which is placed in every Chinaman's mouth so that he may get to heaven's gate with sufficient toll to purchase admission. The earrings were the next prize. Then the jasper bracelets would be disengaged from the bones of the hand and forearm, and this done, the professional bone picker would begin his work. Beginning at the feet, these men pick out of the coffin evory bit and sliver of bone, carefully mashing any soft substance be tween their fingers to make sure that not even a trace of bony structure remains in the land of the white devils. The bones are then cleaned after a fashion, and, if it is found that even a joint of the small toe is missing, the grave, the coffin, and the ground are thoroughly searched. When all the bones have been found, they are wrapped in pieces of muslin, each part of the body by itself, and then the whole is placed in a little zinc-lined box, which is ostensibly the package which goes to China. Te Aroha News, Volume II, Issue 93, 14 March 1885, Page 5

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