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It is not clear why that particular year was so popular for donating temple furnishings.Was 1874 an especially prosperous or propitious time for California Chinese? China, unlike Europe, traditionally made bells from iron as well as bronze.On the other hand, it is easy to cast, much cheaper than bronze, and has a property that is unique among the various kinds of iron Bells of white cast iron had long been common in China, although still rare in Europe, when Chinese immigrants first arrived in North America in the 19th century.The low price of cast iron was attractive to early immigrants who wished to build a Taoist or Buddhist temple, who did not have money to burn, and who felt that a good bell and drum were essential for temple worship. Their surfaces were so hard that it was almost impossible to alter inscriptions, including the names of donors, that had been cut into the face of the mold in which the bell was cast.The age of Victoria's Tam Kung temple, known from a single historical record, is confirmed by the dates inscribed along with the temple's name on several of the objects that form part of the temple furnishings.Although a fire in the 1990s destroyed many of those furnishings, luckily several such dated pieces survived. The shrine that is now on the third floor of the CCBA-supported Chinese Public School was dedicated in the same year.
It is also not enough just to cite primary sources which state that a temple dedicated to the same deity or sponsored by the same organization formerly existed in the same area as the present one, as is the case with both the Tin How and Kong Chow temples.
Users should click on the The page does not cover Christian churches, which often played important roles in early Northwestern Chinese communities.
It is hoped that a new page on churches and missionaries, both Caucasian and Chinese, can be included in the future.
Those wishing to learn more about the tenets of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and the less formal belief systems of North American Chinese will find them discussed on many other websites.
Our concern here is with the physical aspects of religious and secular ritual, and what these tell us about the histories, societies, and psychologies of Chinese immigrants who found themselves in a new land, empty of the ancient religious symbols and sacred places that had sustained their ancestors' spiritual welfare.
Both are claimed to have existed since the early 1850s.