Cheng Hoon Teng Temple

Malaysia's oldest traditional Chinese temple

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Chien Nien

Chien Nien

Time and weather exacted a heavy toll on the Chien Nien sculptures. While beams were being replaced, restoration of mouldings and Chien Nien proceeded at the same time.

In a literal sense, Chien Nien means "cut and paste". It is a craft popular with the Southern Chinese. Chien Nien involves gluing colourful porcelain shards to create decorative - often three dimensional - motifs.

Where figurines were damaged, they were carefully remodelled using wire armatures as the structure for the mortar base. Broken clay tiles were then embedded into the mortar base to help form the figures. Once the figures had attained the desired shape, pieces of porcelain shards could then be glued on with a special putty. Proper Chien Nien calls for custom made coloured bowls from China. These are matched for colour and quality. The thinner the bowls the better. To aid in bonding they need to be unglazed on the inside.

Colour plays an important role in establishing a harmonious relationship between nature and the works of man. To complement the mainly decorative roof top Chien Nien, there are miniature sculptures - also of Chien Nien - at a subsidiary level. These depict scenes from the Chinese classics. Incredibly life-like figures act out time honoured roles, their heavily painted faces and poses offering glimpses of life among ancient Chinese heroes and heroines.

Mythical dragons and lions offer vigilance and security. Deer and cranes symbolise longevity. The graceful phoenix is said to appear in times of peace and prosperity. Warriors with fierce expressions guard the end of sloping ridges, wielding weapons of war against evil or misfortune.

Although Chien Nien is mostly decorative, there are practical applications as well. A mythical creature cleverly disguises this temple gutter. When it rains, the mouth spouts water, channeling chi in line with feng shui.


Besides Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple incorporated manages eight other temples. These are:-

Poh San Teng Yong Chuan Tian
Cheng Wah Keong Geok Ee Keong
Thian Teck Keong Leong San Teng
Wah Teck Keong Keok Kang Bio


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Festival Dates

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Religious Activities

The temple continues to serve the spiritual needs of the Chinese community in Malacca. It is a centre for the propagation of...

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