Penang Chinese Taoist Temples are some of the most elaborate and ornate in Malaysia, due partly to the sheer number of Chinese inhabitants in the community, and also to the prosperity of the Chinese especially from the second half of 19th century until the Second World War, when most of the Chinese Taoist temples of Penang were built. Among the Chinese, many practise a form of Taoism that bears elements of Mahayana Buddhism. As such it is not surprising to see images of Taoist deities alongside the Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism, all within the same temple.
The earliest of the Chinese Taoist temples is Kong Hock Keong, better known as Kuan Yin Teng, or in English, the Temple of the Goddess of Mercy. Initially built by early immigrants to venerate Ma Chor Po, also called Matsu, the patron deity of seafarers, over time the temple became better associated with the Kuan Yin, or Goddess of Mercy. Its formal name of Kong Hock Keong came about because it is the temple built by those the Hokkien and the Cantonese dialect groups in Penang.
In addition to the Temple of the Goddess of Mercy, other noted Chinese temples in Penang include the Kek Lok Si Temple in Ayer Itam, the Tanjong Tokong Tua Pek Kong Temple, which is the most famous of all the Tua Pek Kong temples in Penang, and the Sam Poh Footprint Temple in Batu Maung venerating the footprint of Admiral Zheng He. Not to be left out, the Thai and Burmese communities also built temples in Penang. But while many of the Chinese temples are Taoist by nature, and used for the worship of Taoist deities or deitified personalities, the Thai and Burmese temples are chiefly Buddhist temples, albeit with local elements incorporated into them.
On this page we view the Chinese temples in Penang. The majority are those located on Penang Island, although a few Chinese temples on the mainland is also included, as well as the Thai and Buddhist temples.
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