Daily Archives: November 4, 2012

The beauty of an old Chinese temple

Cu An Kiong or Ci An Gong (Temple of Mercy and Peace) is an old but beautifully designed Chinese Temple in Lasem, a small town in the north coast of Central Java. It is one of many landmarks of the city. It is said that to decorate the temple, several artists were called directly from Guangdong, China.

According to a very old book of local history and spiritual teachings called Sabda Badra Santi, in the year 1479 the temple had already been used by the Chinese community at that time to worship their gods. That is why the 150 square meters temple is considered as the oldest Chinese temple in Java.

The temple was renovated heavily in 1838 by the leader of Lasem’s Chinese community known as Captain Lin Changling. The renovation is clearly described in an inscription inside the temple.

The thing that makes Cu An Kiong very unique is the guardian lions which are located in front of the main gate. Instead of Chinese style sitting lion statues like the ones in any other Chinese temples, Cu An Kiong is guarded by European style lying lion statues. According to a local historian, the lions and also the guardian god statues were installed in 1922 by Captain Huang Xingguo, the leader of local Chinese community at that time.

the old temple with its guardian lions

Referring to the history of Lasem which was a major maritime hub in the past, it is logic that the temple was built by people who came by sea. They thanked to the goddess of the sea who had already protected them while sailing from their country. So, when they built Cu An Kiong, they dedicated the temple to the sea goddess, called Thian Siang Sing Bo (Tian Shang Sheng Mu). Visitors can find the large statue of the goddess in the main altar.

On the side walls of the main hall, there are large Chinese style black and white drawings which look like a modern comic book. The drawings illustrating various aspects of human life and also stories taken from a classic Chinese story.

Up till now, the temple is still being used for worshiping. It is considered a sacred place too. To enter the temple, visitors are asked to take their shoes off.

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