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vietnamMatsu Temple of Tue Thanh Guild Hall 穗城会馆天后宫

matsu tue thanh guild hall

vietnam chinatownIn 1760, the Cantonese community in Cholon founded the goddess Matsu temple of Tue Thanh Guild Hall. 穗城会馆天后宫This was a clan association and a temple for the Cantonese who came from Mai Cheng in Guangzhou province, China. The temple was dedicated to Mazu, 妈祖,their patron deity. In Vietnam, the goddess is known as Tuc Goi La Ba.

The Cantonese had been trading in Vietnam as early as the late Ming dynasty, 明朝. These early trader’s ships arrived in Vietnam during the season of the northern winds. They stayed in Cholon for several months before the arrival of the southern winds to bring them home. As this trading community developed, they initiated the idea of a clan association,会馆,for members to stay while in Vietnam. They also built a temple dedicated to Mazu in appreciation for her blessing during the sea voyages. The construction cost was raised from traders who contributed a percentage of their trading revenue.

Over time, some of these traders settled in Cholon. Their population increased with the arrival of political refugees fleeing China after the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644.  The economic opportunities under the French controlled Vietnam and the social disintegration during late Qing China saw more migrations to Cholon and expanded the membership of the clan association.

The Matsu temple was a central contact point for fellow Cantonese migrants who celebrated traditional festivals and religious rituals there. They also initiated various self help programs and social initiative such as a project to buy a mechanical fire engine in 1898. These projects improved the lives and security of the community.

Economic prosperity and increased membership enabled them to undertake a major reconstruction in 1800 and 6 restorations in 1825, 1842, 1882, 1890, 1972, and 1990. In 1993, the Vietnam government recognized the Clan association and temple as “place of historical and cultural interest with nation grade”.

Today, the Tue Thanh Guild Hall supports education, the poor and initiates a range of social projects. Devotees continue to pray at the temple and major festivals are also celebrated there. The Matsu temple also welcomes tourists and overseas Chinese visitors. In fact, it is considered one of the “must see” landmarks in Ho Chi Minh.

The main hall is dedicated to Mazu and her sculpture is placed on the central altar. On the both sides of the central altar are altars to two other female deities金花娘娘, 龙母娘娘. A side hall is dedicated to Guan Gong, 关公, the God of war and literature. On the altar, the sculpture of Guan Gong is in the centre with Guan Ping, 关平, and Zhou Cang, 周仓, by his side. Due to their mainly female deities, they are also called the female temple in contrast to Nghia An Hoi Quan or Guandi temple, the "male temple".

Another side hall is dedicated to a star deity. Opposite the temple, across a road, is a pond for release of fishes and a small garden.

As you move from the entrance towards the main hall, you can see various calligraphy panels, steles recording the history and activities of the guild hall and small sculptures inspired from popular Chinese legends.

For more than two centuries, the Matsu temple of Tue Thanh Guild Hall served the Chinese migrants and the Vietnam society in many different ways. From offering migrants a place to stay while they waited to return home, it has evolved into an institution for settled migrants. Today, it continues to play this role and its new role as a tourist site contributing to the tourism economy of Vietnam.

matsu tue thanh guild hallMatsu Temple of Tue Thanh Guild Hall
穗城会馆天后宫

Address:
710 D Nguyen Trail,
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

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