Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Maui on my Mind, Part 2

On Front Street, in the middle of Lahaina stands this interesting structure — Wo Hing Museum and Cookhouse. Early in the 19th century, the first Chinese immigrants came to Hawai‘i. Many of them were crewmen on the ships that ported in the islands. Later, Chinese workers were recruited from Hong Kong to work on the sugar plantations on Maui. Most of those workers chose not to renew their labor contracts after they expired but created farms of their own, started businesses, or worked as domestics.

The new immigrants maintained ties to their homeland and in the early 1900s formed the Wo Hing Society. A two-story building was constructed on this site in 1905 as a meeting place and temple. The records have been lost but that building was replaced in 1912 with the current structure (original lost to fire, perhaps). Downstairs is a museum and upstairs is a temple (not accessible to museum guests). The smaller structure to the right is the old cookhouse.

Admission is $5 to $7 and includes entrance to a second historic site such as the Baldwin Missionary Home Museum, also in Lahaina.

From the Lahaina Restoration Foundation's website, "Next to the walkway in the front yard is a bronze bust and marble pedestal monument to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, courtesy of The Sun Yat-sen Foundation for Peace and Education. From 1879 to 1910, he made six trips to Maui and spent more than seven years in the islands preparing for the 1911 Chinese revolution. Dr. Sun’s older brother, Sun Mei, a silent hero behind the revolution, operated a large cattle ranch in Upcountry Maui."

A pair of Fu Dogs (AKA Chinese Guardian Lions) stand on either side of the sidewalk to protect the structure from evil spirits.

Inside the museum are displays from the early Chinese inhabitants. Items shown include a Mahjong set (left), tea pitchers and cups (middle), a receipt book for donations (right) and an abacus (back).

Here is an intricately carved table. As a former woodworker, I really appreciate the skill and workmanship that went into making this piece.

Another Fu Dog is displayed here (its companion can be seen in photo number 9). This pair was carved from a single block of nephrite, "green spinach" jade from the headwaters of the Fraser River in British Columbia. The original jade boulder was discovered in the late 1970s, shipped to Hong Kong where it was painstakingly carved into the pair of dogs displayed here. The dogs weigh some 300 pounds each. Additionally, the residual jade from the carving discard pile was fabricated into countless pieces of fine jewelry.

This display includes a Wedding Food Bowl set with lid (left front and back). a Jade bust of the Sun God (top middle), a Jade Lion/Leopard (bottom middle), a Jade Cong Ritual Object (right middle), and a Jade "Pi" Disc (right front). All these items are very old and were undoubtedly highly revered by their owners.

Sorry about the reflections but this is a 48-inch Burial Belt carved from one piece of "green spinach" jade. This price dates to the latter part of the Western Han Dynasty (c. 207 BC to 25 AD).

Standing against the wall behind a number of the exhibits is a magnificent folding room screen. Beautiful.

Generally, I avoid photos of photos but this has some items of note. For instance, just to the right of the text is a photo of what is believed to be the original Wo Hing Temple structure on this site. If you compare it to the photo below the text, you can note that the older structure was narrower — suggesting the members decided to enlarge the design in the replacement building. These photos are worthy of more than a few minutes examination when you visit.

This is a closer photo of the Cookhouse (or as it is labeled now, "Cookhouse Theater". Originally it was used for cooking for the membership and was placed away from the main building for safety.

Preserved in the interior are three large woks built into a wood-burning stove. Note on the left are benches for people to view films of life in the islands that were made by Thomas Edison between 1898-1906. Additionally, when I was there on this visit, a second video was being shown about the original Chinese immigrants.

I recommend a visit for anyone who is even the least bit interested in the Asian influence on Hawai‘i and, particularly, Maui.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com