2012年10月31日 星期三

Coming home - Part 5 大伯公

The worship of 大伯公, literally Granduncle, is unique to Chinese immigrant communities throughout SE Asia. There are a number of such temples in Penang alone. Below is the gateway to the oldest one, dating back to 1799, located in Tanjong Tokong珠海嶼:

The temple itself is maintained jointly by 5 Hakka clans as indicated by the sign atop the temple office:

And who was this Granduncle? A multiple-language memorial plaque clearly shows that the deity in residence is actually a trio, Zhang Li張理, Qiu Zhao-jing丘兆進, and Ma Fu-chun馬福春. They first settled in Tanjong Tokong in the mid-1700s,  and were honored as 大伯公 after their death. In other words, they were the ancestors of the Hakka immigrants to Penang. This is actually a clan memorial, rather than a Taoist, temple.

In contrast, the 大伯公 in the 開山王大伯公廟 is the Earth/Village God, known in Taiwan and China as 土地公, with a formal title of 福德正神. The banners inside the temple clearly indicates the true identity:

Combining the four characters from top down in the two banners, it reads: 開山王廟福德正神. The obvious conclusion is that this 大伯公 was not an ancestor as the others in Penang, but a more traditional 土地公. Normally, an earth god, only a minor deity, cannot share the same altar with a king. Why was the exception in the Jelutong temple?

Here the story gets a bit complicated and is in part somewhat supernatural.

In ca 1910-20, some businessman "from the north (probably Siam)", asked to "borrow" the Koxinga statue to be honored in wherever he came from. This was a common practice at that time. Not suspecting any malicious intents, the Jelutong temple overseers had generously agreed. And that was the last time they saw the statue. Since a temple cannot be without a deity, in semi-panic, the idea of inviting a 大伯公 in, emerged. And since there was no appropriate ancestors to choose from because Koxinga was the one, the earth god would have to be a stand-in. For the next several decades, the temple became known as the Koxinga-earth god temple. That is until 1991 when Koxinga, through a spiritual medium, had "asked" to return to the temple. And the followers immediately complied. His Highness had very specific description of a statue plus another of NaZa, both to be commissioned and fashioned in Hokkien, China. And amidst great fanfare, Koxinga finally came back to Jelutong.

2012年10月30日 星期二

Coming home - Part 5

[The main altar with Koxinga in the center. This statue resembles the one in the Cheng Family Temple in Tainan, both clean-shaven. The one in 延平郡王祠, also in Tainan, is based on a portrait with a black beard suggesting it was done during a mourning period. In Hokkien custom, sons do not shave when their parents passed. ]

The full name of Khye-Sian-Ong-Tua-Pek-Kong temple in Jelutong日落洞, Penang檳榔嶼, is 開山王大伯公廟. We already know who 開山王 is [Koxinga], but who is 大伯公 (the bearded one on the right), and why a third deity (the child on the left), apparently NaZa哪吒, is also on the altar?

Stay tuned.

2012年10月24日 星期三

Coming home - Part 4

[Above: Fu-Ling Tample in LuKang鹿港福靈宮]

Were there Taiwanese in Penang in the late 1700s? It appears so. Fung-yin provided one fairly prominent example:

"。。。居同安白礁(今属龙海县,早属泉州,清末民初属厦门)。元朝至正年间(公元1341年),十九世孙辜志明由白礁迁泉州打锡巷。志明九世孙辜旺于明崇祯(1628年)由泉州迁惠安洋埔,是为惠安辜氏一世公。旺之六世孙邦变(洋埔三房)于清乾隆初年移居惠安上坂(昔称象坂)东村,蕃衍生息:长子水英、次子尚、三子宗。辜宗于乾隆四十年(公元1775年)趁开海禁携眷赴台谋生,择居鹿港。辜宗四子之一辜礼欢又赴马来西亚槟榔屿拓展,为英属马来西亚首任甲必丹(地方首领)。辜礼欢生八子三女,其子之一辜安平自小送回国内读书。中进士后,为林则徐幕僚,后调任台湾并定居鹿港。安平之孙辜显荣为台湾巨富,被誉为“百年昌盛家族”。辜显荣即是辜振甫之父。安平胞兄弟龙池之孙为辜鸿铭,故辜振甫称辜鸿铭为“鸿铭伯”。上坂辜氏,历经坎坷, 以小手艺谋生,又属小姓,旧时怕受欺凌,曾一度恢复林姓。1952年又复辜姓。"

In short, a Gu family member, 辜宗, migrated to Taiwan in 1775 and settled in LuKang. One of 辜宗's four sons, 辜礼欢 then moved south to Penang to seek and in fact found more fortune. He became the first Kapitan of the British Malaya and raised a large family with 8 sons and 3 daughters. One of them 辜安平 was sent back to China to study who eventually returned to LuKang. And in 1895, one of his grandsons 辜顯榮 (1866-1937) invited the Japanese invading force to enter Taipei to keep peace as Taipei was then being looted by the retreating Qing soldiers. In return, the Japanese rewarded him with various trading rights. Gu became immensely wealthy as a result. And this branch continues on, active in Taiwan banking and commerce to this day. It is, however, unclear as to the fate of the branch in Penang, most likely as wealthy and influential as the Taiwan branch. In stark contrast, those who stayed behind in China did not fare so well.

It should be noted that LuKang was the stronghold of 洪門天地會Hong-Men Heaven and Earth Society rebels led by Lin Shuang-Wen林爽文 (1756-1788). The 福靈宮 (pictured above) honors one of Lin's generals, Wang Shun平海大將軍“王勳”.

The activities of 洪門天地會 in Penang, reported by the British Admin in 1799, now appears a matter of course.

2012年10月17日 星期三

Coming home - Part 3

It is a time-honored tradition that when a temple is built, the names of the donors are literally etched in stone and stone tablets are erected on temple grounds in perpetual memory.  In fact, there are such tablets inside the Khye-Sian-Ong temple in Penang; although, curiously, the first one was dated 1864. The only memorial going back to the year 1820 is again the foundation stone:

A close examination of the inscription in Chinese reveals  something intriguing. Normally, any mention of the names of the Chinese emperors, strict rules known as 避諱 must be followed. In written documents, for example, an emperor's name wherever encountered must begin at the top of the page and the characters must not be in a complete form, usually one stroke less. These are to show the utmost respect to the emperor. Violate these rules, the consequences can be quite dire.

And yet, in this founding stone, the emperor's name was carved in a complete traditional character followed by a simplified character 嘉庆. Notice the 庆, instead of 大, has a 犬 inside the character. This is not a common form, and 犬 means dog, a lowly animal. In other words, this was a deliberate insult aimed at the Qing Emperor 嘉慶. The multiple mention of the year referring to 1820 also suggests a reluctance in accepting the Qing imperial calendar.

Who would have been so brazen as to create this ultimate anti-Qing expression? In that era, the Heaven and Earth secret society readily stood out.

Indeed, it is known that "早在1799年,英属槟榔屿政府就发现天地会活动的记载, i.e., as early as 1799, the British Penang Admin had discovered and recorded the activities of the Heaven and Earth Society". This statement is of immense importance. It provides the crucial extension from the past, since the 洪門天地会 or the Hong-Men branch of the 天地会 Heaven and Earth Society was linked directly to Koxinga.

Koxinga was honored as 萬雲龍 or 萬大哥 [Chief Big Brother Wan] of the society and Chen Yong-Hua [陳永華, 1634-1680 - Koxiga's political consultant and later the Prime Minister under Koxinga's son 鄭經Cheng Jing] further expanded the operation under the pseudonym 陳近南. These aliases were adopted later by the secret society to avoid detection of its anti-Qing restore-Ming activities by the Qing government and the consequential prosecution with severe punishments.

This may explain the reason why the original donors of the Jelutong temple had chosen to remain anonymous.

The Hong-Men itself was first started by Yin Hong-Seng 殷洪盛 during the rule of the last Ming Emperor of China 崇祯 Chung-zhen. After the fall of the Ming Dynasty, the fight of the Han people against the Qing invaders continued. Yin was eventually killed in action, and his son 洪旭Hong-Xu together with the remaining generals then joined Koxinga's force. And the character Hong洪 became a code word used by the members to greet one another.

To this day, branches of this now semi-secret society can still be found in Chinatowns all over the world.

2012年10月13日 星期六

Coming home - Part 2

開山 Kai-Shan or mountain-opening means trail-blazing, not unlike the first Europeans settling in the Midwest and the West Coast in the US, two centuries ago. In the Chinese tradition, ancestors are often memorialized in family temples. Sometimes, a prosperous enough clan may choose to build a large temple to worship the very first ancestor, elevated to the deity status through Taoism. For example, in Penang, Malaysia, the Chen clan worships 開漳聖王 who was the first ancestor to settle in 漳州Zhang-zhou in Hokkien. The sage-kingship was an honorary title in Taoism.

Sometimes, however, the use of  開山 in the temple title deviates from the norm. An example is the Khai-San Temple located in Bukit Merah in Singapore:

This one honors Jie Zi Tui (介子推, ?-636BC), born in the Spring-Autumn Period (春秋時代), in now 山西介休. His story is one of loyalty and piety. He sliced off a piece of his own flesh and prepared it into soup to serve his starving master, then escaping from the enemies. When his master finally became the King of 晉 Nation, Jie Zi Tui resigned quietly from his high post to be with his aging mother, and both of them then resided in 綿山Mian Mountain. The King's summons for Jie Zi Tui to return to his court to be honored went unheeded. In a half-brained attempt to force Jie out from hiding, the mountain was torched, only to find both Jie and his mother died in the fire, huddled together under a tree. Jie was honored posthumously by the king and the populace. The term Khai-San of the temple in Singapore, however, is only a tangential link to the Mian "Mountain". It has nothing to do with any pioneering activities.

Unlike Southeast Asia where Hokkinese en masse had also migrated to, in Taiwan, 開山 has retained its original meaning and 開山王 is still a true, not a Taoist, kingship title in reference to the one and only Koxinga. The only other temple that has 開山 in its name is the 開山宮Kai-Shan Palace in Tainan. It was erected by the Ming-Cheng Kingdom to honor 陳稜Chen Ling.

In 台灣通史 vol 22  (published in 1920), 連橫 wrote that, "開山宮: 在府治內新街。鄭氏時建,祀隋虎賁中郎將陳稜。乾隆五年修。而舊志以為吳真人,且謂臺多漳泉人,以其神醫,建廟獨盛。夫吳真人一醫者爾,何得當此開山之號?鄭氏之時,追溯往哲,以稜有開臺之功,故建此廟。而今又誤為開仙宮,更屬不通。" It is possible that, not realizing who Chen really was, other deities had been invited by the overseers to increase the temple attendance. A physician-deity, Dr Wu, would fit the bill well for those seeking medical miracles.

陳稜 (? - 619AD) was a general of the 隋Sui Dynasty (581-618AD). Records show that he had sailed from 潮州Tiochew to conquer 流求Liu-qiu in 610AD. Some, including the Ming-Cheng officials, argued that Liu-qiu was actually Taiwan while others thought it was Okinawa. This is still in debate even now; although this deed has already been cited by some in China as the historical evidence of Chinese ownership of Taiwan (or Ryukyu, for that matter).

Back to 開山王. Inside the Khye-Sian-Ong-Tua-Pek-Kong temple in Jelutong日落洞 in Penang檳榔嶼, these plaques, dating back to when the temple was built, are found:

Clearly a temple that honors Koxinga, the 開山王, at least in the Taiwanese definition. To our knowledge, this is also the only one in SE Asia. But who had built it, back in 1820?

2012年10月12日 星期五

Coming home - Part 1

Visitors to the Khye-Sian-Ong-Tua-Pek-Kong Temple in Jelutong, Penang, are often intrigued by a memorial stone. The inscription has both English and Chinese parts. The English part reads:

“This ground was given to the Chinese community to erect a temple by Ichik Jemal, The late penghulu of this district on Nov 1820” 

And the Chinese part (above, highlighted with water-soluble dyes), a mention of the year 1820 in multiple calendar forms:

庚辰1820年 龍年

In other words, this temple has a long history and in fact has just celebrated the 192nd anniversary of its founding.

Khye-Sian-Ong is the Hokkien pronunciation of 開山王, a title that refers specifically to Koxinga.  And this is also where the story begins.