Membership badges (2), 'Hung Fook Society' and 'Yiu Ming Society Committee', metal / ribbon / cotton / plastic, used and designed by the Yiu Ming Society, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1990
Potential for communication:
These ceremonial objects from the Yiu Ming Society, NSW communicate the beliefs that Chinese migrants from Guangdong province have practiced in Australia for over a century. The Yiu Ming Society through its Temple based at Retreat Street, Alexandria has looked after the settlement, business and welfare, including burial and spiritual beliefs, of families from the region. The Society has played a crucial role in maintaining the Southern Chinese Lion Dance in Sydney, through training younger members to perform in the major festivals and at Chinese New Year.
Significance in material culture:
These badges which signify membership of the Yiu Ming Society declare group identity and testify to its significant for the maintenance of a complex set of religious and social practices for Chinese migrants from Guandong.
Australia in an international context:
The Yiu Ming society has a documented history in Sydney dating back to the 1870s, providing a rich source of knowledge about the lives of Chinese in Australia. By 1890 it was estimated that about a hundred Chinese lived in one small street, Retreat Street, off Botany Road, Alexandria, the site of the present temple.Those who first settled at Retreat street formed part of a Southern Chinese diaspora, who as a form of survival set up communities of support for their fellow countrymen. Shortage of land had impelled waves of migrants, from the 1800s who were expected to make money abroad to be sent back to their villages in China. These ceremonial objects testify to the strong continuing links that the community has maintained with China.
The badges were designed by the committee of the Yiu Ming Society in Sydney.
Membership of the society is open to Chinese-Australians from Gaoyao/Gouyiu or Gaoming/Gouming county, in Guangdong. The current President, Harry Choy explains that "In 1990 we formed the Yiu Ming society to raise the profile ...the elected members look after the different functions... It is not good for our people to know nothing. There must be someone who stands forward. ... We are interested in looking after our people, our countrymen. We have some houses for aged people...' The Lions of retreat Street', 1997, p.62-64.
The badges were used by the Yiu Ming Society.