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Writing on the Chinese temple

on Sat, 12/13/2014 - 08:31
Interior of Chinese Temple Jin De Yuan in Batavia - Old Jakarta

Chinese temple in Indonesia is called Kelenteng. It is a word that came from Guan Yin Ting or temple of Guan Yin (Lombart and Salmon, 1985: 10). According to Ezerman the word kelenteng comes from the sound of a bell that came out from the temple when there is a ceremony (Ezerman 1922). Kelenteng is the centre of religious and cultural activity of Chinese community. There are 70 of temple in Jakarta scattered in the cities manifest Chinese role in the setlement that makes common value of the inhabitants.

Writings on the Chinese temple in Java are scatered in several paper that are focusing on the ritual, epigraphic, iconography and history of the Chinese community as a whole. The oldest writing on temple was done by a western scholar I.W.Young with title Sam Po Tong La Grotte de Sam Po. The article published in Tung Pao in 1890. Young  describe the history of Chengho that becomes the spirit of the temple Gedong Batu in Semarang. At present all of these buildings are gone, a completely new building was erected. Young did not tell the architecture of the temple, however, he desribed the manuscript in the temple. According to Liem Thian Joe the temple was widened in 1724 by building a pavilion (Liem 1933: 20). The temple that was originally a cave then was covered with building. The architecture of this building is different to other Chinese temple, it is a pyramidal roof. Young did not mention this temple enlargement.

It is Ezerman, who was writing the architecture of Tay Kak Sie Temple in Ceribon, described the architecture of the temple in detail and interestingly he compared with the temple architecture in China. He also described the painting at the temple wall and the inscription. For him Tay Kak Sie temple of Ceribon as very beautiful, however, he admired that the temples in China are more beautiful. he did not wrote the meaning behind the spatial dan formal configuration of the temple (Ezerman, 1922).

A book compiled the Chinese temple of Java and several part outside of Java was written by an astrologer Empeh Wong Kam Fu. As Chinese culture was prohibited at the time of new order, the publisher should ask permit from the inteligent of police department. The book is as thick as 365 pages, but 139 pages is about confucius and Buddhism that has been adapted to the condition of one god almighty as it is according to the nation’ foundation Pancasila. Wong collected 63 kelenteng and 32 lithang. Lithang is a place where confusian have a hall and it is normally located in new building built less than 50 years. However, there are also Lithang at old kelenteng. Besides Wong expained the gods and goddess of the kelentengs, he also wrote spatial function of the temple. As he wrote a great number of temple, he did not explain the kelenteng in detail.

There is also a book published in 1986 as part of the 240 year anniversary of tay kak Sie Temple in Semarang, in which there are story on the gods and goddesses normally venerated in Java. The book is focusing on the case of Tay Kak Sie temple in Semarang, and quoted the history of the Chinese settlement in Semarang from Liem Thian Joe’ Riwayat Semarang.