STRANGE CEREMONY PERFORMED IN ASHES
OF FAMOUS JOSS HOUSE
Prostrate in the smouldering wreckage before them was the charred trunk of the graven image that once held the altar in the Temple of Shaie Tai. The fumes of fresh incense and sacred punks curled skyward. All the dainties obtainable under the circumstances were spread in the propritiatory offering to the devil that no offense to that deity might bring a recurrence of the disaster. No detail was overlooked by the faithful Chinese, who pleaded for mercy in behalf of the 35,000 of their countrymen made homeless by the holocaust.
This unique and touching service took place in Waverly place, where once stood the richest Joss house of San Francisco's Chinese quarter. Last night the worshippers came across the bay from Oakland, bringing two priests of the temple with them. At dusk they tried to find the ruins of their Joss house, but were driven back by the military guards thrown in a wide circle around the locked mansions of Nob Hill. Devotedly, however, they stuck to their mission and went back as far as the ferry building, where they huddled together and remained without shelter until another should come and they could peform their trust.
Early this morning they again made their way to Chinatown. A special policeman escorted them and after some parley got permission from the sentries for the performance of the ceremony in which the Orientals place their only hope of future safety and salvation.
The ruins of the Joss house were soon found and the removal of a little debris uncovered the partly burned Joss. At first sight of the blackened wooden image the Chinese dropped to their knees. They remained silent for a moment and then arose, the priests chanting to the fallen Joss, while the others spread out the offerings of food that had been brought along.
an hour the Chinese remained in worship and then when they had completed
their appeal to the spirit of the burned Joss they cautiously backed from
the sacred wreckage of the temple and after one final prayer, muttered
in unison, returned to the thousands of destitute Chinese in the cities
across the bay. The feast for the devil was left. Some hungry refugee may
chance to find it, but that does not matter to the faithful Chinese; they
have humiliated themselves before all that is left of the Image of Heaven
and will await the blessing their religion promises for such devotion.
San Francisco Bulletin
April 25, 1906