Well this page will be a work in progress. I have been trying to translate the grave stones for my grandfather and great grand father. This page is to assist with that translation and when it is complete I hope to have the full translation. I have uploaded full size images of the graves, temple and signs to Flickr. Click on the image to see the full size image. If you are able to help, please leave a comment in this post or on the flickr page. (I’d prefer the comments here.)
The ? in the Chinese means that this is a character I have been unable t find in the paper dictionary, on my computer, or using the Chinese entry methods on the iPhone.
Top Line: 廣東 義塜
廣東(mandarin：广东；contonese:gwong dung) – Canton or Guangdung provoince
義塜(mandarin:yizhong; contonese:ji cung—–gratuitous graves for anonymous dead)
Bottom Line: 福德祠
google: Fuk Tak Temple
Top line: 南陽
Second Top Line: 博羅
Bóluó (Bok Loh) Province (Google maps)
Outer columns (Poem): 博望宏開傳後裔 羅陽继美振前?
A poem based on Bok Loh – 博羅
The first line might say “the descendants of Fang Cheng“. which is near Nan Yang in He Bei Province.
The second line seem to start with “Bo Luo” of Bok Loh (as it would be in dialect).
Middle columns (Feng Shui Compass Points): 王山丙向兼孑午; 新已辛亥是分全
It turns out that there are many feng shui compass point systems, so I really need someone who can help me with this. The people at the Evergreen Taoist Church suggested I talk to Sydney University.
Right inner column: 中華民國廿八年正月十五日 吉旦安塟
ROC 28 year 1st month 15th day. I think that this uses the Minguo calendar (民國紀元).
ROC 28 = 1939 (1912 = year 1). So this becomes 15 January 1939.
安塟（zàng） ：Burial Ritual (Note google translate tries to autocorrect this to burial – 安葬 )
Middle column: 民國顯考, 諡，良恭, 諱,瑞雲葉府君之墳墓
ROC wrt to my father/ancestors in this tomb, who’s honorific name is 瑞雲 Rui Yun, and taboo name is 良恭 Liang Gong.
顯考 wrt my late father
諡，良恭, Honorific name Liang Gong (Lian Kiong)
諱，瑞雲, Taboo name Rui Yun (Swee Hoon (Hun?) )
葉 Surname Ye (Yap)
府君 One’s ancestor
Left column inside: 四大房杞奉男 ?, 益波, 益金, 益榮, 益錦, ?????
四大房 seems to say 4 eldest sons. The rest I cannot make any sense of. But why would it say eldest? Does that mean that there are more?
- 益波 yit poh (mandarin: yi bo) – My father
- 益金 yit kim (mandarin: yi jin) – My Uncle
- 益榮 yit ng? (eng in tiawanese) (mandarin: yi rong) – Son of a different wife
- 益錦 yit khim? (kim or gim in taiwanese) (mandarin: yi jin)- Son of a different wife
One of the latter characters implies grandchildren.
Given that my grandfather was Hakka, I’d take it that the temple is similar to this one in Singapore:
Fook Tet Soo or Da Bo Gong temple 大伯公 (Tua Pek Kong).
Notes: …until the Republic of China, which counted years as Years of the Republic, beginning in 1912. Thus, 1912 is the 1st Year of the Republic, and 1949 the 38th. This system is still used for official purposes in Taiwan. For the rest of China, in 1949 the People’s Republic of China chose to use the Common Era system (equivalently, AD/BC system), in line with international standards.
on my grandfather’s grave it botakjay says:
For my great grand father botakjay says:
I am changing this date to the Minguo calendar. There is nothing I can find that says that the Minguo calendar ever used lunar calenadar months. It seems to have always used gregorian months and days.
replaced the middle column definition which used to say:
I have been advised that in order of precedence the places should go larger at the top and smaller at the bottom. This would mean I am looking for Bok Loh in Nan Yang, rather than Nan Yang in Bok Loh. But the communists changed some of the provinces and boundaries and things. So I need a map from 1939 in the ROC.
So I have learned: outer two columns are a poem based on bok loh. Next two columns in are fengshui compass points. Thanks to the evergreen Taoist temple in redfern. They gave me another contact and said I would be best off talking to the Chinese department at Sydney uni.
Oh, when I sold the shrfu he reached for a tome on his desk and started looking up things. Didn’t say much, knew much more. :-))
This was what I had for the outer two columns on my grandfathers grave:
Oh and for the next two columns:
Dear Ye Wenyi,
We share the same familyname. I live in Europe and attended Chinese school for more than ten years. I could help you with your search. Bok Lo/Boluo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boluo_County) is a Hakka county in Huizhou. My ancestors also came from Huizhou (more than 150 years ago), but not from Boluo, they came from Huiyang, where nowadays are thousands of Hakka with the name Yip/Yap/Ye live.
You could use this dictionary: http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=chardict
I would greatly appreciate any information or help you can provide or links to people who could help. I am at a bit of a dead end right now. I went to buluo in 1999 but I knew nothing about my grandfather at the time. Are the any organisations there or elsewhere who could help? my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
i have tried to search some sites in chinese about the ye family in Boluo en huizhou. but found nothing. how many generations did your family lived in malaysia. and which state in malaysia? i ‘ve found a association of Yap in Selangor (http://www.mychinesefamilytree.net/newsevents/news/859.html). and one in Sabah with connections to Australia (http://yeclan.blogspot.com/2011/06/blog-post_25.html).
maybe you should contact http://www.yeszp.cn/about.asp?id=4.
Thanks. I will try that. My grandfather was from Boluo. I do not know the year he went to Malaysia. It must be before 1926. I believe my grandmother was born in Malaysia and was hokkien. Maybe I should get a copy of her death certificate. She died here in Australia.
it’s really usefull to have a copy of that. maybe you can also contact some one from de malaysian government archieves. i think they have documents about migration. but you first must know where you ancestors in malaysia lived.
Thanks! I need to register as a researcher for the governemnt archives. Is there an easy way? The web site is all in Malay. But I think I will be able to do it. I found two records! :-)) Wong Yuk Lan is my grandmother!
Title APPLICATION FROM WONG YUK LAN (F) CHIN SOW SIM (F) AND LEONARD JAMES PEACE AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ESTATE OF YAP SWEE (DECEASED) FOR RENEWAL OF MINING LEASE 13065, LOT 15405, MUKIM OF BALANJA.
Accession No. / Reference No. 1990/0006776
Source PEJABAT TANAH DAN GALIAN, IPOH PERAK
Title ESTATE OF YAP SWEE (DECEASED). CONVERSION TO MINING OF GRANT 9048 LOT 15405 BLANJA.
Accession No. / Reference No. 1988/0016165
Source GALIAN, JAB.- MERINYU KANAN GALIAN IPOH, PERAK
This solves the mystery of Nan Yang. My grandfathers tomb says Nan Yang – Bok Loh. Wow. It is in Henan province. No wonder I could not find it.
Chinese surname No.257 Ye4
Ye4 means : leaf; a period; page.
e.g. Ye4 Bing3 means : leaf stalk.
Surname Ye4 is more than 2500 years old.
Abstract: Surname Ye4 was originated in an area which was called the
Nan2 Yang2 Prefecture during the Qin2 Dynasty (221BC to 207BC).
Nan2 means : south
Yang2 means : the sun; bright; clear; masculine; positive.
The present day location of Nan2 Yang2 Prefecture is
in Nan2 Yang2 county in Henan province.
There was a powerful Miao2 tribe living in the region of the middle
Yangtze River (present day Zi3 Gui county in Hubei province). Later
they shifted to Dan Yang2 (present day Zhi Jiang county in Hubei
province). They expanded their domain across to Han4 Shui3 River and
later to Huai2 Shui3 River in the east. They conquered and annexed
many small States. In 704BC its leader called Mei Xiong2 proclaimed the
formation of a Kingdom which was called Chu3.
During the Spring and Autumn Period (722BC to 481BC) in 613BC the ruler
of the Kingdom of Chu3 was King Zhuang. One of his great grandsons was
called Shen Zhu Liang2 who was bestowed with the title of Gong (Duke) by
his cousin brother King Hui. Later Shen Zhu Liang2 was delegated with
authority to rule a district called Ye4 (present day Ye4 Xian4 in Henan
province). He was known as Ye4 Gong.
In 479BC Bai3 Sheng, a prince, gathered a band of armed followers,
and staged a revolt. Bai3 Sheng killed two officials while they were
having an audience with King Hui in the palace. Later he held the King as
a hostage. Bai3 Sheng wanted to dethroned him and install his cousin
Zi Lu as the King of Chu3. But Zi Lu refused to accept the offer and Bai3
Sheng had him executed.
On hearing of the rebellion against King Hui Ye4 Gong congregated an
army and marched to the capital. In a battle near the capital Ye4
Gong defeated Bai3 Sheng who fled to the hills and committed suicide
there. Ye4 Gong was greatly honoured by King Hui for saving his life.
After the death of Ye4 Gong his children adopted YE4 as their surname
in remembrance of him.
Terry wrote: “maybe I can help for the 1st ?, 博望 (‘wang’ in chinese spelling, means looking, viewing or hoping)”
Again some assistance from my work colleagues: “The last ? Of the first sentence (of the poem) may be 冑，it mean 後代(coming generations)”
Top Line: 廣東(mandarin：广东；contonese:gwong dung) 義塜(mandarin:yizhong; contonese:ji cung—–gratuitous graves for anonymous dead)
Outer columns (Poem): 博望宏開傳後冑; 羅陽继美怚抿前?—-博望宏開傳後裔 羅陽继美振前？（i can’t see this word clearly）
Middle columns (Feng Shui Compass Points): 王山丙向兼孑午; 辛已辛亥是分全
———-it’s wrong;it should be : 壬山丙向兼子午；新已辛亥是分金
Right inner column: 中華民國廿八年正月十五日 吉旦安?
安塟（zàng） ：Burial Ritual
Thanks @TinnIong, That is very helpful! 🙂
Middle columns (Feng Shui Compass Points): “王（壬）”山丙向兼孑午; 新已辛亥是分“全”（金）
Outer right column 百代江山千古秀：Country is still beautiful after through the ages
Inner right column: ??廿八年?己?春“古”旦立 ——民國廿八年歲己？春季吉旦立
Middle column right: 頁考純?———頁考純厚維恩葉公
Middle column left: ?妣勤儈?———?妣勤勤儉元配田氏
故兄 振蓬葉公；故妻 葉門田氏
Middle column lower ??——–之墓
Inner left column: 陽男瑞雲孫益波益金益榮益錦曾玄孫仝祀（√）
Outer left column: 萬年支忯？水流長—-萬年支派水長流
Its useful to have read through your comments, but I’ll attempt to decode your grandfather’s memorial inscription, but my Chinese is self taught so I won’t mind if others correct me. As I also have been researching my family history and reading up about the strange expressions on gravestones, perhaps the following might help make sense of things.
南陽 might be a homophone for “南洋” South Seas, i.e. settlements away from China in the south, like Malaysia. So, basically, the first two characters refer the place in which the interred came to rest.
The outer 7 character columns on the right and the left form a couplet
Which might be translated as
For hundreds of generations since Antiquity the landscape has been shaped,
A myriad years may the branches of the family tree flow as water.
This is the family’s ancestral home, it links the people in the grave to their own ancestors in China, BoLuo is in Guangdong, South China, kinda north east of Hong Kong. Boluo is in the middle of Hakka country 🙂
The last character 立 (to stand, to erect) tells us that this stone was erected on the date shown. MinGuo=Year of the Republic 28 (= 1911 + 28 = 1939). This is because 1912 was names MinGuo Year 1.
歲次己卯 refers to the Chinese Sexagenary year 己卯, which is 1939.
春季吉旦立 Auspiciously erected in Spring
Now we come to the central block of characters
This is better written as follows
We’ll start with the centre two columns the large character atop is shared by both columns, and thus it begins
顯考 deceased father and the line ends in 葉公, so this gentleman was of the Ye/Yip/Yap (Mandarin/Cantonese/Hakka) surname. It seems that 維恩 is his given name so when alive, he was 葉維恩. 純厚 seems to be a comment of his quality as a person.
顯妣 deceased mother 勤 diligent and 儉 frugal, first wife 元配 who was 田氏 herself of the Tian/Tin/Tien surname. (Married women seem to always be refered to by their maiden surname instead of their given names.)
The outer inscriptions
故兄振蓬葉公 Deceased elder brother was probably called 葉振蓬. Again 公 refers to a deceased male relative.
故妻葉門田氏 Deceased wife 故妻 of 葉門 the Ye/Yip/Yap clan, and 田氏 this lady is also of the Tian/Tin/Tien surname.
It seems the grave held four people, the parents (one male, two female) and the person who erected the memorial’s brother.
This leaves the outer line of the memorial
which shows four generations of people decended from the memorial to the deceased ancestor. The parent’s living son 瑞雲, four grandsons 益鑫, 益波, 益錦, and 益榮, and great-grandchildren 曾孫 and 玄孫 great-great-grandchildren.
仝 is a variant character for 同 “the same, together” and 祀 worship. I.e. all four generations venerate the deceased by erecting the memorial.
My apologies, it should be great grandfather’s memorial.
Thanks! 🙂 I nice piece of help I find on my return from holidays.
Tin-yuke Char and C.H. Kwock’s “The Hakka Chinese – Their Origin & Folk Songs”, had mention of folks with your surname tracing their origins to 南陽 in “Honan”/Henan in China. In conjunction with Chung Yoon-Ngan’s earlier claim, you might ignore my comment on South Seas above.
It is an interesting observation and one I had completely missed. Perhaps they liked the double play on the meaning of 南陽.