The drum on this stand would have been struck to call the attention the deity or deities of a temple. The donor names inscribed on the stand link it to the 1883 Howell Rd temple in Tingha.


McCrossin’s Mill Museum, Uralla

McCrossin's Mill Temple drum stand
Temple drum stand – at McCrossin’s Mill (IMG_4579, 15.7.19)
Inscription on temple drum stand – at McCrossin’s Mill (IMG_6112, 12.4.21)


沐 恩弟子香邑烏石 鄭泰坤 鄭賀麟 敬送


Respectfully given by Thy/Your favoured followers Cheng Tai Kwan and Cheng Ho Lun of Woo Shek, Heung Shan.


“Cheng Tai Kwan” is also named as a donor of Processional placard 1. That placard is linked to Tingha’s 1883 Howell Road temple. Accordingly, it seems likely that this object also comes from Tingha’s lavish 1883 Howell Road temple.

This hypothesis fits with the preponderance of donors of the same surname—鄭 “Cheng”—who are named on the processional placards (9 of the 20 placard donors are surnamed 鄭 “Cheng”).

Another fact that seemingly supports this hypothesis is that one of the donors of Processional placard 3, a certain 鄭三田 “Cheng Sam Tin”, is known from a newspaper reference to his burial in Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery to have hailed from the exact same village as the donors of this drum stand. “Cheng Sam Tin” and the drum-stand donors also shared the surname 鄭 “Cheng”. It seems more likely that these fellow villagers and members of the 鄭 “Cheng” clan or family would have donated to the same temple than to different ones.


Overview: This inscription appears to represent a breakthrough. It is the only text presented herein that names a town or village in connection with a donor name. The place name in question is 烏石 “Woo Shek”, in the district of Heung Shan.

The spelling “Woo Shek”: Note that “Woo Shek” is spelt “Wu Shek” on the Friends of Roots Village Database.

三鄉 Sam Heung: Woo Shek was and still is located in an area of southern Heung Shan commonly known as 三鄉 Sam Heung, which roughly translates as “The Three Village Localities”, seemingly in reference to the neighbouring villages of 平嵐 Ping Lam, 橋頭 Kiu Tau, and 烏石 “Woo Shek”, between which was an important local marketplace, which had grown into a bustling commercial centre by the close of the 19th century. All three of the aforementioned villages are associated with the surname 鄭 “Cheng”.

谷都 Kuk Tou”: Officially, 烏石 “Woo Shek” was located in the former Heung Shan subdistrict of 谷都 “Kuk Tou”. This subdistrict was located in the south of Heung Shan, and occupied much of its southernmost territory, neighbouring Macao.

Sam-heung-ese/Kuk-tou-ese: A unique vernacular is spoken in the Sam Heung area. This vernacular is known in Chinese as 三鄉話 “Sam-heung-ese” or 谷都話 “Kuk-tou-ese”. It is one of several Hokkien vernaculars native to Heung Shan, which in terms of its local languages is one of the most linguistically diverse parts of China.

Natives of 烏石 “Woo Shek” and 谷都 “Kuk Tou” in Tingha: Newspaper records suggest that Tingha’s Chinese residents came from a disparate spectrum of places in southern China, and spoke a number of Chinese languages and divergent dialects thereof. It is clear that people from the Heung Shan district of 谷都 “Kuk Tou”, including from its village of 烏石 “Woo Shek”, formed one set within this mix. Besides the donors of the drum stand that is the subject of this section, and other persons of the surname 鄭 “Cheng”, such as donor of processional placard 1 鄭三田 “Cheng Sam Tin”, there is evidence that natives of 谷都 “Kuk Tou” from other clans were also present in Tingha. For example, an advertisement posted in 1899 by a man searching for his brother indicates that there were at least two people of the surname 陳 “Chan” from 谷都 “Kuk Tou” in Tingha, while an article from 1914 concerns a native of 谷都 “Kuk Tou”who had come to Sydney from Tingha and was surnamed 黃 “Wong”.

鄭泰坤 “Cheng Tai Kwan”: 鄭泰坤 “Cheng Tai Kwan” is also named as a donor of Processional placard 1.

鄭賀麟 “Cheng Ho Lun”: 鄭賀麟 “Cheng Ho Lun” may be the man of the same name who posted a notice in Sydney’s Tung Wah Times in 1920, in which he announced his return to Sydney from China and stated his current residential and postal address. His English name is given in the address appended to this notice to be “Hoe Lun”. The same name appears in several lists connected with the Yee Hing Society (or associated organisations) that date from 1912, 1918 and 1920 respectively, and in a 1915 donor list, in which a location of Sydney is given in connection therewith.

This is a continually evolving website, and more information about this object will be published as further research is conducted.