AN ANCIENT piece of history which went missing from the Bendigo Joss House Temple more than six decades ago has been returned.
The 140-year-old ancestral Chinese tablet was removed from the temple during the 1950s, when the Joss House was in a derelict state and vulnerable to break ins and vandalism.
Joss House supervisor Darren Wright said the return of the tablet was significant, both historically and religiously, for the temple.
"Ancestral tablets were made upon the death of an individual," he said.
"The tablet's bear the person's name, where in China they were from, their age and give a fascinating insight into the origins of the Chinese that came to Bendigo during the gold rush years.
"From a religious perspective, they were used by families to pay respects to those who had gone before and are miniature wooden versions of the foot stones on the graves at Chinese burial grounds."
Mr Wright said the tablet was that of Zhang Yong Fu, a Chinese hawker who was born in the Xinhui District in the Guangdong Province in China.
He said Mr Yong Fu was 41 years old when he died and was buried in Quarry Hill Cemetery on July 22, 1870.
"We are hoping that the return of this tablet will be a catalyst for others in the community who have one of these or any other objects from the Joss House to return them to their rightful place," Mr Wright said.
"We don't need to know any details of how you or your family came to have these items and will greet any returns with gratitude and complete anonymity."
For more information contact Mr Wright at the temple on 5442 1685 or Evonne Oxenham on 5443 8117.
The Joss House has been recognised as a nationally-significant building and was opened by the National Trust in the 1970s after it was restored.
It is managed by the Bendigo Trust as an operating temple but is also a tourist attraction.
We are hoping that the return of this tablet will be a catalyst for others in the community who have one of these or any other objects from the Joss House to return them to their rightful place.