There are many artistic gems tucked away in the streets of George Town. From street art to ornately decorated temples there are plenty of things to catch your eye. The lavishly decorated Han Jiang Ancestral Temple in Penang is the only example of Chinese Teochew architecture in the region. The temple doors are its most striking feature.
Door Gods of Han Jiang Ancestral Temple
The most striking thing about the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple is the figures painted on the doors. The brightly painted characters in Chinese costume catch your eye from the street.
The central door features the gods Wang and Ma. Two senior marshals under the Taoist deity Northern Emperor. The presence of the door gods is believed to keep evil spirits from entering the temple.
The Lords Wand and Ma are depicted as warriors in full regalia. The gods brandish their weapons at friends and foes who seek to cross the threshold. The gods have been guarding this door for more than a century.
The temple entrance has three pairs of doors for prosperity. On either side of the warriors stand two pairs of doors depicting Chinese merchants.
Beyond the temple doors lies a courtyard that leads to the Hall of Respect. The hall houses an altar to the Taoist deity. Devotees visit the temple to pay homage to their deceased ancestors.
About Han Jiang Ancestral Temple
The current temple opened in 1870 under the name Teochew Kongsi. The name of the temple changed to Han Jiang Ancestral Temple in 1935.
The building fell into disrepair after being used as a school. Master craftsmen from China restored the temple to its original beauty as part of a conservation project in 2002. The high standard of the conservation work was recognised by UNESCO with an Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award in 2006.
Finding Han Jiang Ancestral Temple
There are many beautifully restored Chinese temples in the streets of George Town.
The best way to find them all is to flag down a rickshaw and ask the driver to show you around. The fare for the tour should be negotiated with the driver before accepting a ride.