Showcasing our Chinese resourcesOctober 15th, 2020 By Amalaratna
Treasures from the Doris Chung collection
Since 2014, when Chinese Language Week was officially launched in New Zealand, the National Library has held public events to mark the occasion.
This year for 2020 we were able to showcase a collection of treasures held in the Alexander Turnbull Library from the Doris Chung Chee Kung Tong (‘Society for promoting public good’) Chinese Masonic Society.
Chee Kung Tong in New Zealand
Historian Nigel Murphy, foremost New Zealand expert on the society gave an interesting talk in the National Library auditorium, outlining the development of the society in China and its development and adaptation in early New Zealand and Wellington. We also heard from members of Doris Chung’s family, who are donors of the collection — Rayward Chung and Kirsten Wong — about the collection and how it came to be donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library. Attendees were treated to special viewings of some of the collection items, shown by Curator Oliver Stead.
Moon guitars, erhus and gongs
The large collection of the items that belonged to this society include the stringed and percussion instruments from the orchestra, among them a dulcimer, moon guitars, erhus and gongs, and ritual implements, silk flags of the five lodges, banners, badges, medals, uniforms, printing blocks, seal chops and photographs.
The Chinese characters on the large yellow banner are the oaths of initiation and the punishments that will befall the wrongdoer should they be broken, for example, death by sword, pestilence and epidemics.
This collection was originally curated and shown by Kirsten Wong and Nigel Murphy at an exhibition at the Library in 1991 when it was first donated. The exhibition catalogue from that event is held in the library at Chee Kung Tong: the Hung League in New Zealand.
Chinese textiles from late 19th or early 20th century
Nowadays some of these collection items are too fragile to be shown but several of them have been digitised. Below are links to some examples of Chinese textiles related to Chee Kung Tong (Chinese Masonic Society) from the Doris Chung collection.
- Chinese textile relating to Chee Kung Tong (Chinese Masonic Society). A lion. Front. Late 19th or early 20th century. Ref: F-085-1
- Masonic symbol with horse and carp. Late 19th or early 20th century. Ref: F-077-1
- Masonic symbol with pavillion and storks, recto. Late 19th or early 20th century. Ref: F-078-1
- Chinese symbols in circles flanked by a bird, a monkey and two lions, verso. Late 19th or early 20th century. Ref: F-078-2
Chinese research guide
Chinese Language week 2020 in photos
Below are some photos from our Chinese Language Week celebrations. Thanks to Mark Beatty for the photographs.