Translating an Ancestral Tablet

Some time ago in Toronto I purchased what I thought was an antique Chinese sign from an antique dealership. Once I had brought it home I did a bit more research on it and found that it is an old ancestral tablet.

This page covers provides some photos to provide an online reference to it and potentially bring some more information as it becomes available.  I’ve also created a Quora question to see if the smarts of the Internet can help translate or otherwise provide deeper insight into the tablet.

The tablet itself is about 45″ (115 cm) tall – not including the base that would inserted into a stand or similar.  The width is about 13.5″ (34 cm).

If anyone who comes across this page can help translate or provide more information, I’ll update the page.


The following is a narrative from what I have been able to gather from various people who have helped translate or provide guidance.  See the credits and thanks section below.

Front Side

Mr He

Back Side

Died in the 4th year of the Guanxu Emporer in the Qing dynasty (1878) in the Foshan area.


These translations are aggregated over time.  Any useful information would be appreciated.  Characters I’ve been unable to transcribe are ?, characters that haven’t been translated are in bold and underline.

Front side






Back Side


Back Side

大清 光緖 四年 佛山?方弗林氏??
Qing Dynasty – 4th year of Guanxu Emporer –Foshan






Credits and Thanks

I’d like to thank the following people for helping me begin to understand more about the tablet.

  • Philip Clart – Department of East Asian Studies, University of Leipzig


20160527 – Updates based on information from Philip Clart, restructured as a blog post.
20160524 – Initial Post



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