Sheung Wan's Coffin Houses

Originally published: June 2019

Re-published: Mar 2021

Walking along Sheung Wan you find various types of shops in the lovely place such as little coffee shops, boutiques, museums. It is hard to imagine it used to be a place where coffin houses and funeral-related service took place. Sheung Wan was designated as a Chinese settlement area; the Chinese population boomed by 4 times within 10 years in 1860s. These people were mainly single male from Fujian and Canton with no family support, they migrated here for political stability.

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Medical and social services were weak at that time. The colonial government had no specialized management system for the dead. Many dead bodies were thrown around Hollywood Road Park and it became a burial ground.

This drew Chinese people’s attention because it directly related to an important Chinese myth: Death outside of hometown is a big deal; it was regarded as one of the most miserable fate of on