A-30.02.038
"The old grave near Then Sim."
Oehler, Wilhelm (Mr)
date late : 1914-12-31.0.


A-30.08.035
"Grave of Rev. R. Pfisterer, who died in China in 1901."
Walter, Georg Ernst (Mr)
date early : 1901-01-01.0., date late : 1927-12-31.0.


A-30.08.036
"Graveyard in Hong Kong."
Hager, C. R. (Mr)
date early : 1896-01-01.0., date late : 1905-12-31.0.

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Burial, Graveyards and the Afterlife:
Christianity in Asia

Buddhism and Hinduism share a belief in reincarnation, and the principle of Karma plays an important role in shaping subsequent reincarnations. Christianity is more teleological, for according to this belief system humans are destined to die once, and after that comes judgement on the day of resurrection. How these varying beliefs shaped the burial practices of European missionaries, Chinese and Indians in Asia is an interesting question. Different cultural influences also shaped burial practices. For European missionaries in Asia, death in a foreign land may have shaped burial practices as well in their conception of a "fitting" resting place for someone who had died far from home. Prominent tombstones are common in missionary graveyards in West Africa. Until the 1930s and 1940s, when pharmaceutical companies developed synthetic drugs, preventive measures loomed large in the health measures of Europeans in the tropics, where vector-borne diseases were concerned. Quinine for malaria and antimony for schistosomiasis remained important before the 1930s, but medical therapy was limited in many ways. For European missionaries who went to Africa and Asia, illness and death were real concerns.
Missionary graves litter Africa and Asia as a testament to the monumental sacrifices missionaries made to carry the Christian message to foreign lands.
In A-30.08.035 we see the elaborate tombstone over the grave of Rev. Pfisterer, who died in China in 1901. A-30.08.036 shows a European graveyard in Hong Kong. Again, there are some prominent tombstones, though short pillars with numbers mark other graves. Were Chinese burials simpler? In A-30.11.003 we see a simple Chinese coffin, but this could be the coffin of a poor person. We see elaborate Chinese graves in A-30.11.009 and A-30.11.010, obviously the graves of important personalities. Did graves serve as memorials for the Chinese? A man sits in front of the large horse-shoe shaped grave in A-30.11.009. In A-30.11.006, people are shown at a graveyard venerating the ancestors with music, sacrifice and prayer. Was this a feature for only the newly dead or graves served as a place of contact between the living and the ancestors? In A-30.11.011, we see the huge urns called "golden jars" that contain the bones of Chinese ancestors or relatives. Do these serve as mobile graves?
C-30.54.009 shows a Basel Mission graveyard in Mangalore, and C-30.55.009 and European graveyard in Udapi (both in India). The latter is a fenced and gated cemetery, unlike the Indian cemetery in C-30.55.002, though both display some elaborate tombstones underscoring some similar attitudes to burials or cross-cultural influences. In C-30.63.054, one encounters the kings' graves in Mercara. What is visible is the building that supposedly houses these graves, a superb example of Indian architecture.

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