earthenware wall vase
The vase is an example of the simple earthenware Chinese pottery produced for export and probably local consumption in the late nineteenth. As a result of the emphasis on porcelain among collectors and museums, this form of Chinese ceramic manufacture is rarely acknowledged or collected.
The significance of the vase is enhanced because it is part of a collection of personal effects and shop stock owned by an Anglo-Chinese family in Australia - the Wong's. Both Amelia Hackney and Wong Sat had arrived in Australia in the 1850s. She was from a well-educated English family, he came out to look for gold. At some point between 1857 and 1864 Wong Sat met Amelia Hackney. By this stage Sat was probably already a trader or merchant. It was not uncommon for European women to deal with Chinese retailers, hawkers or market gardeners. With little apparently in common, Sat and Amelia nonetheless established a relationship that went beyond mere commerce. In 1864 they were married. Shortly after they settled at the gold mining town of Tuena, some 70 kilometres south west of Bathurst and not far from the new Hackney family property at Burraga. There they conducted a butchery and general business selling Chinese and European goods to the locals. At Tuena Amelia gave birth to seven of their 10 children.
The Wongs moved south to the Fullerton/Bolong area where many Irish and Scottish immigrants had settled. First they rented a property and then, after Sat's naturalisation in 1879, they purchased several hundred acres of land. They ran sheep and built a store to service the local community of farmers and graziers.
The Wong's store sold everything from preserved fruit picked from the family's orchard to violin strings imported from Germany. Country stores like this were conduits for an extraordinary range of goods from Australia and overseas.
Despite the growing hostility towards Chinese immigrants in the wider colony - a feeling that would culminate in the Immigration Restriction Act or 'White Australia Policy' of 1901 - the Wongs remained respected members of their community. They brought their children up with an ethic of self-improvement and education. Ceramic ornaments such as this vase evidenced a familiarity with their Chinese heritage. Theirs' is a story of integration in an era often noted for its intolerance and racism. The store was closed in 1916 after Sat died. Amelia passed away in 1925. Several of their children married into local families and remained in the district. 'Bolong' was run exclusively as a sheep farm.