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Flag of MalaysiaTien Kong Than 天公坛

malaysia
The Tien Kong Than in Penang, Malaysia is a majestic Fuzhou style temple resting on the slopes of Penang Hill in Air Itam.

This temple was founded by the Hokkien community and is known to have existed as early as 1871 with a possibly longer history. It is dedicated to the Jade Emperor, 玉帝, or Tiangong, 天公, the supreme deity in the Taoist pantheon.

A flight of granite steps brings the visitor towards the main door. Entering this door, the visitor arrives at a front hall where the Buddhas of the three directions are flank by two Dharma protectors; Weituo and Sangharama (also known to Taoists as Guan Gong,关公, the God of Literature and War).

Behind this hall is court yard with two side halls each hosting 14 deities set against a backdrop of blue skies. This courtyard leads the visitor towards a raised terrace where the hall dedicated to the Jade Emperor is located.

The sculpture of the Jade Emperor sits in the central shrine of the hall. Around the Jade Emperor are the Sun God and the Moon Goddess and along the sides of the two walls are more celestial officials.

Every year, on the 9th day of the Chinese New Year, Tien Kong Than is extremely crowded with devotees. On this night, all Chinese families set up a home shrine to pay their respects to the Jade Emperor. As a temple dedicated to the Jade Emperor, it becomes a natural attraction for many devotees as well.

The importance of Tien Kong Than can be seen in its successful restorations. In 1931, a restoration was made possible through the support of the Burmese Chinese brothers brothers, Aw Boon Haw (胡文虎) and Aw Boon Par (胡文豹), famous for their Haw Par Villa in Singapore and their Tiger Balm.

A stele was erected to commemorate their contribution and lists 10 major contributions as a result of their support. The stele still stands in the courtyard before the Jade Emperor’s hall. In 2000, another major restoration was undertaken and lasted for 6 years.  

Although the Tien Kong Than is not a very vast complex, it is unique in its architectural style and in its location on the slopes of a hill. Walking on the steps towards the main door, visitors experience the harmonious way in which human architecture embraces and achieve equilibrium with nature.



 

thien kong thanTien Kong Than 天公坛

Address:
Hill Railway Road,
11500,
Penang, Malaysia, 10200

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