Monday, July 21, 2008

Tua Pek Kong Temple @ Sibu.

Another prominent landmark in Sibu is the Tua Pek Kong which stands majestically facing the Rejang River. Tua Pek Kong temples in Sarawak are generally built by the river where the settlements began. Tua Pek Kong is a deity which evolved from the cultures of the early settlers from Southern China is wordshipped only in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Tua Pek Kong is situated in the town centre and easily accessible by foot when walking around Sibu town.

According to historical records, by the end of the Qing Dynasty in the late 19th Century, the people of Southern China fled, notably to Southeast Asia to escape poverty, famine, political instability and social unrest. They brought with them their deity for protection, and in Southeast Asia the settlers arrived with Tu Ti Gong, a deity revered as the spiritual head of their settlement. Through word of mouth passed down by settlers, the people looked up to the deity as their "spiritual Temmengong". For this reason, they respectfully called the deity "The Great Uncle" or Tua Pek Kong in Hokkien

Sibu Tua Pek Kong was built in 1871. The wooden temple then consists of the main prayer hall and the Yunhu Monastery for nuns in the back portion complete with a place to worship the Goddness of Mercy. The statue Tua Pek Kong itself was shipped in from China. According to word of mouth, the Tua Pek Kong temple in Sibu is associated with many miracles. One involves the statue of Tua Pek Kong itself.

In 1871, while transporting the statue from Xiamen, the ship encountered a storm at the sea. When the vessel was on the verge of sinking, the sailors saw a kind looking old man sitting on the bow waving his hands at the raging sea. The storm subsided and the journey continued safely to Sibu. On arrival in Sibu, the workers took the statue out of the box and were shocked to see its face resembling that of the old man who pacified the waves.

In 1928, Sibu town, comprising a row of billian shops with atap roofs were gutted. Only the Tua Pek Kong Temple was left untouched. During World War II, the Allied Forces bombed Sibu town. The temple was destroyed but not the Tua Pek Kong Statue.

Around the Tua Pek Kong Temples, there are many features or mini park for one to relax

One of the pavilion had been hit by a cargo ship and fell to the ground. The site had been cordon by the authority for safety reason. What a shame. One can enjoy the scenery of the Rejang river from this spot.

Around the temple area, there are these carvings that pretty tell the stories of the migration of people from China, their lifestyle and culture back then.

There is also a opera house nearby the temple. Usually there is no opera show here unless on certain occasion.

There is also a mini garden with statue near the opera house

There is also a huge tree near the temple, known as the "Rain Tree" which is said to be more than 100 years old, planted here by the early settlers. It is believed the tree was planted by the earliest trishaw operator to provide shade as they were not used to the tropical climate here back then.

Round tour of some of the temple architecture.

The temple is a 7 storey structure but the public was prohibited to explore to the highest point. It used to be opened to the public when I was still a children but the privilege had been abused by the people here, especially the young ones to do all sort of unthinkable acts at the revered place.

It is a majestic structure for the town and I hope it will remain so.


Daryl Teo said...

Great pics & informative narrative. Thanks!

clement said...

u forgot to take the one the ship ran over.... that is true interesting incident