Photo: Impressive details.

Tay Kak Sie Temple

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Semarang’s Chinese population is more visible than in many other Indonesian cities and within the Chinatown area (Pechinan Semarang) tucked around a bend in the Semarang River, a network of narrow laneways and streets are stuffed with gold shops, Chinese medicine stores, and smokey incense-filled temples.

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The highlight of this quarter is Tay Kak Sie Temple riverside in Gang Lombok (also called Klenteng Gang Lombok). The small, but evocative temple embodies a homonyms symphysis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, or “San Jiao” the “three teachings” with more alcoves and colourful alters to a great host of deities than first meets the eye.

A highlight. Photo taken in or around Tay Kak Sie Temple, Semarang, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

A highlight. Photo: Sally Arnold

The vicinity was a place of worship for Semarang’s Chinese community since the mid 18th Century and the temple as it stands today was constructed by skilled masons, carpenters and other artisans brought from China, and was completed in 1772, originally for the main deity, Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. The artistry and craftsmanship are exquisite: A blue tiled rooftop is decorated with fine ceramic-cut-work mosaics (chien nien) of dragons standing guard over a menagerie of other symbolic animals with a central figure holding aloft a red sphere.

Beautiful detailed carvings and paintings grace the beams and panels of the exterior and within the temple. The interior accommodates an open roof for natural ventilation with a shallow sunken floor beneath for drainage (watch your step). A small statue of Guanyin graces the central altar, along with larger Buddha statues. The altar to the left as you face the front is dedicated to Cheng Ho (Zheng He), the famous Chinese Muslim Admiral represented as a folk god, Sam Poo Kong (Sam Poo ... Travelfish members only (Around 500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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