Photo: Just beautiful.

Hainanese Temple (Thean Hou Kong)

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Thean Hou Kong or the Temple of the Heavenly Queen is the spiritual centre for Penang’s Hainanese community and as well as displaying some of Georgetown’s best stone carvings, it also provides an insight into the history of the people who built it.

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Resplendent on Lebuh Muntri, amidst a row of somewhat ordinary urban architecture, the temples’s quality of the carving and craftsmanship is compelling. The ornamentations look as though they have existed since the temple was built at the end of the 19th century, but are in fact relatively recent, added in 1995 in celebration of the building’s centenary. Created in the traditional manner from colourful broken ceramic bowls, the chien nien roof embellishments are extensive, as is the stone carving.

Nothing if not brightly coloured. Photo taken in or around Hainanese Temple (Thean Hou Kong) , Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Nothing if not brightly coloured. Photo: Sally Arnold

It seems almost unbelievable, but the pillars that support the main entrance gate, encircled by imposing dragons, are fashioned out of single blocks of stone. The intricacy and attention to detail—down to every last dragon scale, leaf or hair—is continued across the entire facade of the building itself, where each panel tells a story taken from traditional Chinese folklore in magnificent ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 700 words.)

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