Award winning Teochew temple
Published/Last edited or updated: 4th October, 2017
Han Jiang Ancestral Temple, Penang’s Teochew Kongsi or clan association, is the sole example of traditional Teochew temple architecture in Georgetown, built in 1870 as a centre of fellowship for immigrants from the Guangzhou region in Southern China.
Over time the building was subjected to a mishmash of unsympathetic additions and in the early 2000’s funds were raised to restore it to its former state. This major project employed artisans from China skilled in traditional lacquer and ceramic work and the resulting immaculate transformation was rewarded the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation Award of Merit in 2006.
The renovation sparked renewed interest with the community in Teochew culture and encouraged the development of traditional puppetry, opera, music and dance, sometimes performed within. Fronting Lebuh Chulia close to Little India, the grey coloured gatehouse encompasses a trio of colossal twin doors painted with beautiful lacquered and gilded temple guards. Take a moment to admire the exquisite three-dimensional filigree work of the main guards’ golden helmets.
Beyond the gate the simple layout comprises a long narrow paved courtyard, a middle hall with panelled screens and featuring a carved dark wooden alter housing three small golden bearded deities with a smaller courtyard behind. The rear hall is also screened and divided into three altars graced with wooden ancestral tablets. An overall pallet of black and dark brown with red, gold and blue highlights creates a harmonious but somewhat sombre look, in contrast to other bright multi-coloured Kongsi in Penang.
Information about the site’s history and restoration projects is displayed on visitor boards and it’s worth popping your head in if you are passing by. Combine with a quick visit to Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in the facing street, and Kapitan Kling Mosque around the corner for a mini multi-faith tour.
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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