It is sometimes said, Chinese burial graves are for both the living and the dead.
An auspicious burial place and a proper funeral ensure the ease of passage to the other life. A respectful tomb stone recognised the lineage of the departed to his family and the village/town of origin.
A well situated burial place, and a well maintained grave also ensures the prosperity of future generations. An ancestor’s grave is also a point of re-union for immediate family and clansman.
In the era of Victorian gold rush, the majority of the Chinese would intend to return to the home town in China. Most will be hoping for a glorious return from the ‘Gold Mountain’ to better themselves in the China society.
If it was not possible to return home during their lifetime, they might wish to be sent back to China after their death as Sin Yan (先人) – past generation ormer men. It is important to return their body to China so that their descendants could worship their burial site.
A common fear for the Chinese was the prospect of a being a lonely ghost wandering a foreign landscape, unable to find comfort of his clan.15
In the China diaspora, it is common for Chinese to be exhumed and shipped onto China.