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Film, Video San Francisco Chinese funeral

Digital viewing copy

About this Item


  • San Francisco Chinese funeral


  • Shows most of the ceremonial portion of the funeral procession of Tom Kim Yung, military attache to the Chinese Legation to the United States. The camera looks slightly north of east across Dupont Street, the main street of Chinatown. All business in Chinatown was suspended for the day. Note the traditional ponytails, or queues, worn by Chinese men, a universal custom during the Quing (Manchu) dynasty. The procession mixes a few western elements with the full pageantry of a traditional Chinese funeral. White is the color of Buddhist mourning dress; mourning relatives and official mourners wear white headbands. First scene are two mounted mourners on white horses. [0:44] The two lanterns that follow bear the family names of the deceased. [0:48] Banners precede the white military band. [0:51] Next come twelve Tom family members carrying tablets listing the rank and titles of the deceased, [1:01] followed by four men in tall hats who ward off malevolent spirits. [1:06] Following them are fifteen Buddhist priests in white, carrying staffs with the "eight auspicious signs" of Chinese Buddhism (fish, jar, lotus, mystic knot, canopy, umbrella, conch-shell, and wheel of the law). [1:12] They are followed by fifteen Taoist priests with symbolic staffs. [1:21] The following carriage may contain food to be sacrificed at the cemetery. Next comes a tall banner giving the whole obituary of the deceased. [1:30] Then follows the chief mourner, acting Consul General Jung Bow He, attended by incense bearers. A riderless horse follows, carrying the spirit of the deceased, attended by two mourners. A line of San Francisco police officers precedes the hearse, [1:45] which is drawn by six horses and attended by mourners who are reflected in its windows. [1:50] The open carriage following bears a portrait of the deceased framed by a large floral wreath. [1:59] A banner and umbrella follow, the latter customarily presented to a popular official when he leaves a district. Tall banners mounted on the following wagon display poetic epitaphs (right: "A star has fallen to earth" ; left: "Your name is made famous by this bitter record"), flanked by the names of sons, nephews, and cousins of the deceased, who will carry on the family name and honor. [2:05] Next come representatives of the Six Companies (the federation of district associations that arbitrated justice in Chinatown). Several hold raised fans. Prominent merchants follow, flanked by horsemen. [2:10] After a short cut in the film, two carriages of the immediate family of the deceased are seen. [2:18] Although the film ends here, there were also one hundred and twenty-three additional carriages following in the procession.


  • Thomas A. Edison, Inc
  • Kleine (George) Collection (Library of Congress)

Created / Published

  • United States : Thomas A. Edison, Inc., 1904.


  • -  Tom, Kim Yung,--1858-1903
  • -  Funeral rites and ceremonies--California--San Francisco
  • -  Processions--California--San Francisco
  • -  Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.)


  • Actualities (Motion pictures)
  • Silent films
  • Short films
  • Nonfiction films


  • -  Duration: 2:19 at 12 fps.
  • -  Sources used: The George Kleine Collection...catalog, p. 114-115; American Film Institute catalog, film beginnings, 1893-1910, p. 940; Edison films catalog, no. 200, January, 1904, p. 13, viewed online August 4, 2021 via RUcore, Rutgers University Community Repository WWW site; San Francisco chronicle, September 16, 1903, p. 13, via ProQuest Historical Newspapers; San Francisco call, September 15, 1903, p. 8, and October 6, 1903, p. 2 viewed online August 4, 2021 via the California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  • -  Photographed: September 23, 1903. Location: Dupont Street [now Grant Avenue], Chinatown, San Francisco, California.
  • -  Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as digital files.
  • -  Tom Kim Yung's death (Tom is the family name) was the tragic consequence of a police assault, leading to his subsequent suicide. Following an elaborate service at the Chinese Consulate, the funeral procession formed and proceeded through Chinatown. It took place at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, September 23, 1903, and was probably the largest ever seen in Chinatown. Afterwards the participants rode in carriages to the Ning Yung Chinese Cemetery at Colma, just south of San Francisco, for a final ceremony. The body was then returned to Chinatown and kept by an undertaker before being shipped home to China, as was the custom.
  • -  Collection purchased from Kleine estate March 27, 1947. 35 mm. nitrate film destroyed.
  • -  The George Kleine Collection of early motion pictures in the Library of Congress : a catalog / prepared by Rita Horwitz and Harriet Harrison with the assistance of Wendy White. Library of Congress, 1980.


  • viewing print 1 film reel of 1 (42 ft) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.
  • dupe neg pic 1 film reel of 1 (42 ft) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.
  • non-viewing print 1 film reel of 1 (42 ft) : si., b&w ; 16 mm.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • FLA 1789 (viewing print)
  • FRA 4430 (dupe neg pic)
  • FRA 4431 (non-viewing print)


  • Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA dcu

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 00694410

Online Format

  • image
  • video

Additional Metadata Formats

Rights & Access

The contents of the Library of Congress Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897 to 1916 Collection are in the public domain and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897 to 1916 Collection.

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Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Thomas A. Edison, Inc, and Kleine. San Francisco Chinese funeral. United States: Thomas A. Edison, Inc, 1904. Video.

APA citation style:

Thomas A. Edison, I. & Kleine. (1904) San Francisco Chinese funeral. United States: Thomas A. Edison, Inc. [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Thomas A. Edison, Inc, and Kleine. San Francisco Chinese funeral. United States: Thomas A. Edison, Inc, 1904. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.