Altar Vessel

This cobalt blue altar vessel was ordered to be made for the original Ng Shing Gung Temple. It was probably received in San Jose around 1892. The Ng Shing Gung Temple was moved to Heinlenville, the fifth San Jose Chinatown, after the 1887 arson fire of the Market Street Chinatown.

Especially made for the Ng Shing Gung Temple, the donors had the name of the Temple added to the ceramic vessels. There are two on the front altar table. Another is on the floor of the altar area in the Chinese American Historical Museum and a fourth one is on display on the first floor in the side altar area. This one was in the City of San Jose Collection Center. Cobalt blue glaze was popular during this time period. This altar vessel was used to hold incense sticks and candles lit by worshipers.

This object was featured in the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)‘s “Gathering: Collecting and Documenting Chinese American History” exhibit from October 17, 2019 through March 22, 2020. This exhibit brought together, for the first time ever, the origin stories of 28 Chinese American museums, historical societies and organizations across the U.S. that document and make public the history of Chinese throughout America. Their origin stories were told through a single object or artifact each institution chose to loan from its collection for display at the exhibit. CHCP was proud to contribute this artifact to MOCA’s exhibit and to participate as one of the featured organizations.