The Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple (GPS: 5.41514, 100.33713; Traditional Chinese: 福德正神廟; Simplified Chinese: 福德正神庙; Pinyin: Fú Dé Zhèng Shén Miào), also known as Poh Hock Seah, is a clan temple of the Hokkien people who trace their origin to Southern Fujian Province in China. It is Although registered with the Chinese Protectorate of Penang on 11 October 1892, the Hock Teik Cheng Sin can trace its roots back to 1844, with the founding of the Kean Teik Tong Hokkien association. It is one of the Hokkien institutions set up before the large influx of newcomers (collective called the Sinkheh) to Penang.
The Hock Teik Cheng Sin moved to its present site in 1850. It occupies a lot granted to its leader, Khoo Teeau Pang. The temple and its surrounding buildings are believed to have been constructed between 1850 and 1867. It is most popularly known as the Hokkien Tua Pek Kong Temple, after its patron deity, Tua Pek Kong, the Taoist god of prosperity, who also goes by then name of Hock Teik Cheng Sin. The Tua Pek Kong in this case serves as the tutelary deity for the Hokkien people of George Town, a similar position played by the deity at the Cantonese Tua Pek Kong Temple.
Entrance to Hock Teik Cheng Sin (30 June, 2014)
The Kean Teik Tong was one of the two parties that was involved in the Penang Riots of 1867, together with the Ghee Hin Secret Society, an open warfare along the streets of Penang. During the riots, the Kean Teik Tong was allied with the Hai San, led by Kapitan China Chung Keng Kwee. As a result of the clashes, the British authorities subsequently banned all clan associations, giving them the dubious title of "secret societies".
Due to the ban, the Kean Teik Tong (also written Khian Teik Tong) found itself deregistered. It had to continue functioning other different guises, so various other societies were registered in its place, among them the Poh Hock Seah, the Hokkien Kongsi, Cheng Hoe Seah and Tong Kheng Seah. Each of these has its base at Hock Teik Cheng Sin. Of these, Poh Hock Seah is probably the most significant, which is why Hock Teik Cheng Sin became synonymous with Poh Hock Seah.
Hock Teik Cheng Sin during a Chinese New Year Open House (1 February 2009)
Poh Hock Seah occupies the entire ground floor of Hock Teik Cheng Sin. It was established in 1890, the year that the Kean Teik Tong was banned by the authorities and dissolved. It was set up to look after the interest of the Hokkien people in Penang, filling the void left by the Kean Teik Tong.
Upper Porch at Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple (26 July 2008)
As the principal deity of Poh Hock Seah is the Tua Pek Kong, the Hock Teik Cheng Sin by extension became the Hokkien Tua Pek Kong Temple. As the god of prosperity and one in charged of bestowing blessings and safeguarding the Hokkien community, the Tua Pek Kong features prominently in all Hokkien settlements, where there would be a shrine large or small dedicated to it. And as Tua Pek Kong is also the patron deity of merchants, the Poh Hock Seah derives much influence and prestige by being the main site of its worship in George Town, and thus, in the whole Penang Island.
Chingay processions have their origin with the worship of the Tua Pek Kong. During Chingay processions, gaily decorated floats and giant flags are paraded along the streets of Penang originating from the Poh Hock Seah.
Hock Teik Cheng Sin offerings table (4 February 2006)
Intricate artwork on the ceiling beams reflect the artistry of the Chinese craftsmen (4 February 2006)
Cheng Hoe Seah is a Hokkien society occupying the upper right wing of the Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple. Its patron deity is the Cheng Chooi Chor Soo. The Cheng Hoe Seah was founded as early as the 1840's. Its founding leader was Tan Cheng, believed to be one of the directors of the Batu Lanchang Hokkien Cemetery management committee back in 1841. The Cheng Hoe Seah moved into the Hock Teik Cheng Sin in 1849.
The Tong Kheng Seah is a Hokkien society that worships Sin Long Siang Tay, the patron saint of farmers and peasants. The feast day of Sin Long Siang Tay falls on the 14th day of the 2nd lunar month.
These legitimately registered societies were created when the British authorities outlawed the Khian Teik secret society in 1890. It simply transferred its assets to these societies. The Poh Hock Seah inherits the religious functions of the Khian Teik in running the Hokkien Tua Pek Kong temples in Armenian Street as well as at the Tanjong Tokong Tua Pek Kong Temple, where the annual flame watching ritual called Chneah Hoay is conducted.
Altar to Sin Long Siang Tay, patron deity of the Tong Kheng Seah, in the central hall of the upper floor (4 February 2006)
When restoration work was corried out at the Hock Teik Cheng Sin, triangular fighting flags were uncovered. These were probably in use during the 1867 Penang Riot, when the Hokkien Tua Pek Kong and the Red Flag Society fought against the Cantonese Ghee Hin and the White Flag Society.
Warring factions were the state of affairs among the various Chinese clans in Penang during the late 19th Century. To provide for an easy escape, there is a secret passage at the side yard of the Hokkien Tua Pek Kong temple that leads to the grounds of its ally, the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi.
As this article is written (2006), the Hock Teik Cheng Sin is still in the midst of a RM1.3 million restoration project which includes the temple gateway, the stage, 10 neighbouring shops and of course, the temple itself.
Rosewood furniture at Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple (26 July 2008)
Altar to Cheng Chooi Chor Soo, patron deity of the Cheng Hoe Seah (26 July 2008)
Processional banners and swords to be paraded on feast days (26 July 2008)
Tua Pek Kong Altar at Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple (26 July 2008)
Tua Pek Kong Hall at Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple (26 July 2008)
The Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple is located within its own compound at the corner between Armenian Street and Cannon Street. It is accessed via a short passageway. You can take Rapid Penang Bus 10, 12, 103, 301, 401 and CAT to Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling), then walk south till you reach the corner of Armenian Street and Cannon Street. The entrance to Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple is on your left.
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