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"Heathen Rites in the Burned City", San Diego Union, April 26, 1906

Here's an article I saw at the San Francisco Fire Department Museum: "Heathen Rites in the Burned City", San Diego Union, April 26, 1906 (transcript below)

San Diego Union, April 26, 1906

"Heathen Rites in the Burned City"

Chinese Dig Up Their Joss From Ruins and Seek to Propitiate Him

By the Associated Press

San Francisco, April 25.—With unwavering faith in the image of Heaven, twenty Chinese gathered in one desolate spot in the ruins of Chinatown this morning and worshipped in full compliance with the rites of their religion. In the ashes of their temple they knelt and silently offered their prayers. Prostrate in the smouldering wreckage before them was the charred trunk of the graven image that was once in the altar in the Temple of Shaie Tai.

Incense and Fat Pig

The fumes of fresh incense and sacred punks curled skyward, and all the dainties obtainable under the circumstances were spread in proper order, that no offense to that deity might bring a recurrence of the disaster. No detail was overlooked by the faithful Chinese, who pleaded for mercy in behalf of the 35,000 of their countrymen made homeless by the holocaust.

Came From Oakland to Do It

This unique and touching service took place in Waverly place, where once stood the richest joss house of San Francisco's Chinese quarter. Last night the worshippers came across the bay from Oakland, bringing two priests of the temple with them. At dusk they tried to find the ruins of their joss house, but were driven back by the military guards thrown in a wide circle around the wrecked mansions of Nob Hill. Early today they again made their way to Chinatown. A special policeman escorted them, and after some parley got permission from the sentries for the performance of the ceremony in which the Orientals place their hope of future safety and salvation.

Dug Up the Joss

The ruins of the joss house were soon found, and a little digging uncovered the partly burned Joss. At first sight of the blackened wooden image the Chinese dropped to their knees. They remained silent for a moment and then arose, the priests chanting to the fallen joss, while the others spread out the offerings of food that had been brought along.

Feast for the Devil

For an hour the Chinese remained in worship, and then, when they had completed their appeal to the spirit of the burned joss, they cautiously backed from the sacred wreckage of the temple, and after one final prayer, muttered in unison, returned to the thousands of destitute Chinese in the cities across the bay. The feast for the devil was left beside the joss.

* * *

[Note that the article itself, written by the AP, isn't as offensive as the headline, written by the San Diego Union. When I searched online for "Shaie Tai", the only hit I found was a transcription of an article headlined "Chinese Worship upon Ruins of Chinatown" from the San Francisco Bulletin. It's nearly identical to this one, presumably just a differently edited copy of the same AP story. Most of the edits are minor, but the Bulletin version does contain a couple of sentences edited out of this Union version: the bit about the ferry building, and the final sentence.]

[Also, what's up with the flow? It goes down, skips past a photo, the to the right, then back up above! Confusing!]

See also the rest of my photo set from the museum.

Comments (1)

Funny, these sorts of headlines were very typical during that age and time. I came across many similar articles doing my parade research. I should give you my senior thesis one of these days.

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