Cheng Hoon Teng Temple

Malaysia's oldest traditional Chinese temple

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Gold Gilding

Gold Gilding

Gold gilding is also a prominent part of the temple. This accentuation is deemed necessary out of reverence to the deities.

For this restoration, high quality gold leaf was brought in from China. Today, machines produce thinner and finer gold leaf. These are cut into squares of about 3" by 3". Gold leaf is sold in books of 25 leaves. The leaves must not be touched by hand or they will disintegrate.

Before any timber surfaces could be gilded, the temple's interior had to be thoroughly washed. Years of accumulated dust and smoke would have rendered any gilding pointless. Where necessary, local artisans replaced smaller timber elements badly damaged by termites, fire, or dry rot.

Having thoroughly prepared the designated areas, the artisans applied thin layers of gold leaf with a brush called a Gilders Tip.

Before the restoration, the six gilded guardian lions at the entrance to the main temple had already lost all their gold gilding. Even their layer of ta chi was reduced to uneven traces of red. As the lions are important symbols for the temple, their regilding was considered essential.

Chinese calligraphy too needed attention. Scripts flanking the doors were retraced and given a fresh coat of ta chi. As a rule, gold leaf must be applied within twenty four hours. Otherwise, the ta chi would become too dry. Traces of gold outside the ta chi areas were removed with a damp cloth.

Gold gilding is valued for its radiance and luster. It glorifies the deities and fulfills important feng shui requirements.

Gold leaf has distinct advantages over other gold colored finishes. For one, its reflective quality is superior. The beaten leaf reflects better than anything produced from pigment. Gold leaf is also more durable. Properly gilded surfaces are known to last for centuries.

Like most other features, the door panels had been badly treated with layers of shellac and had succumbed to the ravages of smoke. It was decided that they too would undergo a complete regilding.


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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