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The San Francisco Daily Morning Call, August 19, 1864


To-day the Ning-Yong Company will finish furnishing and decorating the new Josh house, or place of worship, built by them in Broadway, between Dupont and Kearny streets, and to-morrow they will begin their unchristian devotions in it. The building is a handsome brick edifice, two stories high on Broadway, and three on the alley in the rear; both fronts are of pressed brick. A small army of workmen were busily engaged yesterday, in putting on the finishing touches of the embellishments. The throne of the immortal Josh is at the head of the hall in the third story, within a sort of alcove of elaborately carved and gilded woodwork, representing human figures and birds and beasts of all degrees of hideousness. Josh himself is as ugly a monster as can be found outside of China. He is in a sitting posture, is of about middle stature, but excessively fat; his garments are flowing and ample, garnished with a few small circlets of looking-glass, to represent jewels, and streaked and striped, daubed from head to foot, with paints of the liveliest colors. A long strand of black horsehair sprouts from each corner of his upper lip, another from the centre of his chin, and one from just forward of each ear. He wears an open-work crown, which gleams with gold leaf. His rotund face is painted a glaring red, and the general expression of this fat and happy god is as if he had eaten too much rice and rats for dinner, and would like his belt loosened if he only had the energy to do it. In front of the throne hangs a chandelier of Chinese manufacture, with a wilderness of glass drops and curved candle supports about it; but it is not as elegant and graceful as the American article. Under it, in a heavy frame-work, a big church bell is hung, also of Chinese workmanship; it is carved and daubed with many-colored paint all over. In front of the bell, three long tables are ranged, the fronts of two of which display a perfect maze-work of carving. The principal one shows, behind a glass front, several hundred splendidly gilded figures of kings on thrones, and bowing and smirking attendants, and horses on the rampage. The figures in this huge carved picture stand out in bold relief from the background, but they are not stuck on. The whole concern is worked out of a single broad slab of timber, and only the cunning hand of a Chinaman could have wrought it. Over the forward table is suspended a sort of shield, of indescribable shape, whose face is marked in compartments like a coat of arms, and in each of these is another nightmare of burnished and distorted human figures. The ceiling of this room, and both sides of it, are adorned with great sign boards, (they look like that to a content Christian, at any rate,) bearing immense Chinese letters or characters, sometimes raised from the surface of the wood and sometimes cut into it, and sometimes these letters being painted a bright red or green, and the grand expanse of sign board blazing with gold-leaf, or vice versa. These signs are presents to the Church from other companies, and they bear the names of those corporations, and possibly some extravagant Chinese moral or other, though if the latter was the case we failed to prove it by Ah Wae, our urbane and intelligent interpreter. Up and down the room, on both sides, are ranged alternate chairs and tables, made of the same hard, close-grained black wood used in the carved tables above mentioned; devout pagans lean their elbows on these little side tables, and swill tea while they worship Josh. Now, humble and unpretending Christian as we are, there was something infinitely comfortable and touching to us in this gentle mingling together of piety and breakfast. They have a large painted drum, and a pig or two, in this temple. How would it strike you, now, to stand at one end of this room with ranks of repentant Chinamen extending down either side before you, sipping purifying tea, and all about and above them a gorgeous cloud of glaring colors and dazzling gold and tinsel, with the bell tolling, and the drums thundering, and the gongs clanging, and portly, blushing old Josh in the distance, smiling upon it all, in his imbecile way, from out his splendid canopy? Nice perhaps? In the second story there are more painted emblems and symbols than we could describe in a week. In the first story are six long white slats (in a sort of vault) split into one hundred and fifty divisions, each like the keys of a piano, and this affair is the death-register of the Ning-Yong Company. When a man dies, his name, age, his native place in China, and the place of his death in this country, are inscribed on one of these keys, and the record is always preserved. Ah Wae tells us that the Ning-Yong Company numbers eighteen or twenty thousand persons on this coast, now, and has numbered as high as twenty-eight thousand. Ah Wae speaks good English, and is the outside business man of the tribe - that is, he transacts matters with us barbarians. He will occupy rooms and offices in the temple, as will also the great Wy Gah, the ineffable High Priest of the temple, and Sing Song, or President of the Ning-Yong Company. The names of the temple, inscribed over its doors, are, "Ning Yong Chu Oh," and "Ning Yong Wae Quong;" both mean the same thing, but one is more refined and elegant, and is suited to a higher and more cultivated class of Chinese than the other - though to our notion they appear pretty much the same thing, as far as facility of comprehending them is concerned. To-morrow the temple will be opened, and all save Chinese will be excluded from it until about the 5th of September, when white folks will be free to visit it, due notice having first been given in the newspapers, and a general invitation extended to the public.

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