Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Nam Hua Chern Teck Kung, Matang - Dragons Installation

A ceremony was held on the 28 Jan 08 at the site for the installation of dragon sculptures. These dragon sculptures were imported from China. A total of twelve dragon sculptures were installed on the day; there were a pair of Prince Dragons, a pair of Green Dragons & 4 pairs of Spiritual Dragons (or mini Grass Dragons).

The ceremony was attended by local leaders & committe members of the temple. Currently the temple is near 80% completion.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Places of worship, Betong area

Fung San Shu, Saratok is about a century old now. Permanent settlement first started in Saratok around 1888, It was said that a businessman from Kabong (about 50 km from Saratok) migrated here in the early 20th Century; and he brought along the deity worship here.

Like many of the histories of Chinese temples & small townships in Sarawak, fire incidents were not uncommon since most the earlier shoplots were not concrete structure & temples were normally found among these wooden shoplots.

The present temple is the third location, planned in the 80s and completed in 1993, ever since the original temple was found in the early 20th Century near the river bank.

In the 1920s and 1930s, there were about 20 wooden shoplots in Saratok, the late 1930s fire had destroyed most of them, though the temple was unharmed. Later on, 56 double storey wooden shoplots were built & the temple was shifted to a 2nd location in 1940s due partly to erosion near the river.

Saratok, around 1971 A.D.

In June 1970, major fire broke out again in Saratok, 28 of the 56 shoplots were destroyed. The current concrete shoplots were built in 1973 to replace most of the destroyed wooden structure. The temple was then again moved to the present site in 1993.

Every year, 22nd day of 2nd Month of lunar calendar, the temple will hold celebration of the host deity birthday; the 1993 celebration was grand as it marked the completion of the new temple on a new site. Devotees from surrounding areas, as far as Kuching, flocked to Saratok to join the occasion.

Present Saratok Wet Market, from the balcony of Fung San Shu.

Saratok is now a major town in Betong division, it is the 2nd largrest town in the Sri Aman & Betong divisions, though it was not chosen as the capital earlier when the area was declared a separate administrative division.

Saratok Buddhist Association, on a hilltop in Saratok.

Shang Ti Temple, Betong, about 50 km from Saratok.

Tian Yin Gong, Roban, about 20 km from Saratok.

Leang Shen Temple, Spaoh; between Betong & Saratok.

Fou Lung Temple, Pusa; about 15 km from the junction of Betong/Saratok highway.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Marup Gold Mine, Engkilili

Around 1856, a group of Chinese miners from Sambas, Kalimantan landed in Marup to exploit the gold mine opportunity. With the approval from the Brooke Administration, these pioneers formed the Fifteen Kongsi (believed to be 15 shareholders) to manage the mining activities in Marup, Engkilili.

As gold deposits diminished after 1887, some started to move to nearby Engkilili & settled down; they were the pioneers of the early Engkilili Chinese immigrants.

The office of the Fifteen Kongsi was left behind and later on, transformed to the present day Fifteen Kongsi Chinese Temple.

In the early 20th Century, as more miners settled down in Engkilili, some Teochew Chinese from nearby Sri Aman started to move to the area, and Engkilili started to transform to township.

The Tua Pek Kong Temple here is said to be found around that time, as no exact record of the history is available. The temple was shifted to the present location in late 1950s to make way for new roads etc.

By early 1960s, with the completion of Sri Aman / Betong highway; Engkilili started to experience higher growth and development. The Marup gold mines and the Fifteen Kongsi remain a vague memory to most of the younger Engkilili Chinese. The temples may help to reflect the life of the earlier settlers.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mt Hosanna Chapel, Sri Aman

Mount Hosanna Chapel is located at 157 KM of the Kuching/Sri Aman Highway. Its unique architecture & white paintings makes it very eye-catching as you passed by the site even on the very first time.

The building signifies three large white candles. The steps of the staircase to the top is said to be 100 steps. The place is opened only on Sunday at 1000am.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Bau Chinese Insurgence 1857

This is a forgotten sad story of a Chinese leader Liu Shan Bang, the Twelve Kongsi operating in the Mau San gold mine, and the once prosperous self governed mining town of Bau Lama or Mau San.

The Mau San Tian Tsze Lung Kung is more than a century old. It was founded around the time when gold & antimony were discovered in Mau San, about 1820 – 1830. The host deity is Lau Chu Tian Tsze, a deity of Hakka origin since most of the miners were Hakka, originally mostly from Sambas, Kalimantan. This temple provided the pioneer miners spiritual supports and also served as a centre for cultural activities & other administrative matters of the Twelve Kongsi.

Before the arrival of Sir James Brooke, Sarawak was under the rule of Brunei. Around that time, Sarawak, particularly the settlement around the gold mining areas were facing an uprising against the Brunei ruling from native Dayaks and the Malays. James Brooke assisted the Sultan of Brunei to settle the local civil war & thus was granted the White Rajah to rule Sarawak.

As the Brooke Administration began to establish his rule over Sarawak, he began to impose taxes etc, prohibited opium & wine trading, and restricted trading & export of gold & antimony, particularly to the self governing Mau San and the Twelve Kongsi.
It was said that James Brooke earlier on had established agreement with the Twelve Kongsi of non intervention on respective areas, partly of his busy involvement with the local civil war between Brunei & local Dayaks, and earlier political circumstances.

The Twelve Kongsi and the Chinese miners in Mau San had already well established since then. They were well contented in their self rulings since the earlier Brunei poor administration, & the civil war.

The reforming Brooke administration had angered the Mau San miners & the Twelve Kongsi, and thus a rebellion was started against the White Rajah.
The rebellion was initiated in 1857 at Tian Tsze Lung Kung in Mau San by Liu Shan Bang, the leader of the Twelve Kongsi.

600 armed miners, without proper weapons & military training, paddled down the Sarawak River & attacked the Astana. James Brooke escaped the assault. Five Europeans were killed, and one was mistaken to be James Brooke. With no political will & planning the Chinese miners stayed or ruled Kuching for 3 days before returning to their base.

By then, James Brooke had already been given time for retaliation. The counter attacks by Brooke’s army, with combined forces of Skrang Iban warriors & Malays loyal to him, defeated the Chinese miners badly.

In Jugan Siniawan, more than a hundred miners were killed; including the leader Liu Shan Bang himself. Dead bodies were left & decomposed everywhere in the area. The smell was said to be so bad that the nearby place is now called 'Buso' (in Malay, it means rotten or stink). The Shan Teck Temple in Siniawan was later constructed in memory of the tragic event of Liu Shan Bang & his associates.

The remaining miners retreated further to Mau San, some escaped to Kalimantan, most perished on the way. Many miners & families hid in nearby cave (the Ghost Cave named after the tragedy) and subsequently hunted down & killed by the Rajah forces; most were suffocated to death, including many women & children. The Mau San mining settlement, together with the Twelve Kongsi was thus wiped out after the incident.

The decomposed smell of dead bodies in Ghost Cave & surrounding areas in Mau San had lasted for weeks; it is not known whether the town, ‘Bau’ (means smelly, in Malay), got its name from the incident.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak