Woven in Time
Through the years I have reflected on my mother’s story of her past sadness and torment administered by her father-in-law in Sha Kong [社崗]. She frequently returned to her birth village Pong Woo [蚌湖村] to seek a safe haven and comfort from her family after my father had left for New Zealand. Her journey was a tiring 12-hour walk over makeshift mud tracks between fields of crops.
My mother’s past stories of abuse led my husband and I back to her village. Through satellite images we were successful in finding our village and my aunt’s new three-storied house. My determination was to visit the ancestral home of my mother’s family. Inside, there were a variety of unwanted possessions including tapestry pieces which I brought home with me. The needle work was made by my late aunt whose husband is my late uncle Young Shew Wing [楊少榮], buried at the Anderson’s Bay cemetery in Dunedin. He arrived here as a market gardener in 1925 but was denied the chance to return to China to see his family again. His fate was sealed in 1932 but the tapestries that have been woven for their future grandchildren are now a spiritual memory of his wife and family.
These tapestries commemorate the hardships of my uncle’s toil during his years of absence from his home village. Each tapestry brings together a precious bond of affection from his wife through her delicate hands weaving those unspoken words of love to his burial place in Dunedin.
Maisie [黃徐就珍] is the wife of Leslie WONG [黄閏樵] whom I have already covered his story about his perseverance in restoring the Chinese gravestones. When Maisie told me about the square tapestries of a baby-carrier, embroidered by her late aunty, the wife of Young Shew Wing [楊少榮]*, I was enticed to do a separate story about her. In those days, embroidery was one of the essential skills of the married Chinese woman. Undoubtedly, the self-embroidered baby-carrier signifies the pride of a married woman about her care for her baby. The tapestries are finely crafted and imbued with auspicious blessings and patterns. I have chosen a black and red one, with embroidered blessings on the four sides to live an affluent, safe, happy and long life. I placed the embroiderer’s family photo** at the centre of the tapestry under the sun [日] that lights and leads the way.
Maisie posed her portrait with a few beloved soft toys that she has kept from when she was a child. During the photo session, I asked her to sift through her memory about playing the mum’s role with the soft toys. I am pleased that her portrait photographs are instilled with a delicate sense of untrammelled and girlish motherhood. Baby carrier, soft toy, family photo and Maisie, it is such a heart-to-heart encounter with the mothers.
* Young Shew Wing died in 1932 at the age of 30 and was buried at the Anderson’s Bay cemetery in Dunedin.
** Sitting in the centre of the photograph is the embroiderer, the wife of Young Shew Wing (her name is not known). The standing man and the woman carrying the toddler are the son and daughter-in-law of Young Shew Wing. The children in front are the grandchildren. The family had an additional girl and a boy after this photo was taken, making a total of seven grandchildren.
King Tong HO
母亲被虐的故事，促使我与丈夫去探访她的家乡。透过卫星影像，我们成功寻到姨母在家乡三层高的新房子，便决定去探访母亲的祖居。屋内有各种被遗弃的物品，我选了几幅绣帷带回家。这些针黹是已过世的婶婶所绣，她丈夫是我的叔叔杨少荣。一九二五年他来到新西兰做园丁，之后再没有机会回到中国与家人团聚，最后葬在但尼丁的 Anderson's Bay 墓园。他的命运在一九三二年时已不可改变。而婶婶为他们子孙做的绣帷，却成了后代对他们及家人的精神纪念。
婶婶手工精致的绣帷, 是对叔叔离乡别井、辛劳岁月的纪念，每幅绣帷皆编织出无言的爱, 萦绕着但尼丁他的墓地。
我曾述及黄闰樵，他有恒地修复华人墓碑。黄徐就珍是他的妻子。当她告诉我她保存有已故婶婶、亦即杨少荣* 的妻子、所刺绣的婴儿背带绣帷， 吸引了我去叙述她的故事。那年代，刺绣是华裔已婚妇女的重要技能，无疑地一块由自己刺绣的婴儿背带绣帷、意味着已婚妇人对婴儿的悉心照料、并引以自豪。绣帷精巧地绣满代表吉祥和祝福的图案。我选了这方红黑色、充满祝福、四边的花纹寓意富裕、安康和长寿。我将剌绣者的家庭合照** 放在绣帷中间、［日］字之下，让光明带领着他们一家。
* 杨少荣在一九三二年逝世，卒年三十岁，葬于但尼丁Anderson's Bay 墓园。
母親被虐的故事，促使我與丈夫去探訪她的家鄉。透過衛星影像，我們成功尋到姨母在家鄉三層高的新房子，便決定去探訪母親的祖居。屋內有各種被遺棄的物品，我選了幾幅繡帷帶回家。這些針黹是已過世的嬸嬸所繡，她丈夫是我的叔叔楊少榮。一九二五年他來到紐西蘭做園丁，之後再沒有機會回到中國與家人團聚，最後葬在但尼丁的 Anderson's Bay 墓園。他的命運在一九三二年時已不可改變。而嬸嬸為他們子孫做的繡帷，卻成了後代對他們及家人的精神紀念。
嬸嬸手工精緻的繡帷, 是對叔叔離鄉別井、辛勞歲月的紀念，每幅繡帷皆編織出無言的愛, 縈繞著但尼丁他的墓地。
我曾述及黄閏樵，他有恆地修復華人墓碑。黃徐就珍是他的妻子。當她告訴我她保存有已故嬸嬸、亦即楊少榮* 的妻子、所刺繡的嬰兒背帶繡帷， 吸引了我去敘述她的故事。那年代，刺繡是華裔已婚婦女的重要技能，無疑地一塊由自己刺繡的嬰兒背帶繡帷、意味著已婚婦人對嬰兒的悉心照料、並引以自豪。繡帷精巧地繡滿代表吉祥和祝福的圖案。我選了這方紅黑色、充滿祝福、四邊的花紋寓意富裕、安康和長壽。我將剌繡者的家庭合照** 放在繡帷中間、［日］字之下，讓光明帶領着他們一家。
* 楊少榮在一九三二年逝世，卒年三十歲，葬於但尼丁 Anderson's Bay 墓園。