Friday, November 9, 2012

Coming home - Part 6 Meet-up

歸宗 - returning to the roots (Nov 6, 2012)

Update: A Koxinga 金身 will be sent from the Cheng Family Temple in Tainan to replace the one lost from the Jelutong Koxinga Temple in 1910-20:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Coming home - Part 6

This seemingly ordinary dragon table is actually 136 years old. The horizontal inscription 開山聖王 is a more formal title than 開山王 that again refers to Koxinga. The vertical inscription on the right side reads 光緒丁丑年 (i.e., 1876) - when it was dedicated, and the left side the donor's name, a Wang ? Shan (王?山, the middle name is not readable). The table was installed during a period when the Koxinga statue was the only deity in the temple.

After 192 years of being on its own, unguided yet never strayed from its origin, it is now time for the Koxinga Temple in Jelutong to link up with the original Koxinga Temple 鄭成功祖廟Cheng Family Temple in Tainan. Unlike 延平郡王祠, which was a Qing installation, the Cheng Family Temple was built by Koxinga's son and heir, 鄭經Cheng Jing.

Principal overseer Mr J Lim will travel from Penang, Malaysia, to Taiwan, and on Nov 6 to pay a courtesy visit to the Cheng Family Temple in Tainan. A delegation from Penenag is also being organized and its members will participate in the celebration of 鄭成功開台紀念日 on April 29, 2013.

His Highness will no doubt continue to look after those who tough it out and honor him throughout the ages, be they residents of Taiwan or the distant Malaysia, they are all members of the extended 東寧Tung-Ning Cheng Family.

To our bretherens in Penang: Welcome home!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Coming home - Part 5 哪吒

From the outside, the most prominent feature of the Jelutong Koxinga Temple is the five martial flags planted on the roof. This is a tradition held over from since the temple was built and yet no one knows what they meant.

Until now.

These 5 triangular banners each has a surname in the center:
These flags represent the five divine battalions led by the central battalion commander (Li) 哪吒NaZa. In other words, although never realized before, NaZa has always been present in the Koxinga Temple in Jelutong. The five battalions are 東營 (East Battalion); 南營 (South); 西營 (West); 北營 (North); and 中營 (Central), and the respective flag colors are 青 (green); 紅 (red); 白 (white); 黑 (black); and 黃 (yellow), and the commanders' names, 張(基清); 蕭(其明); 劉(武秀); 連(忠宮); and 李(哪吒).

This is in fact the 五營信仰 (the 5-batallion belief), still common in southern Taiwan. Even though it is not known when the belief first started, in view of the central role of NaZa, it appears to have been part of the NaZa worship by the Koxinga soldiers.

NaZa哪吒 is a Taoist god worshipped primarily in Taiwan as 三太子 [the Third Prince]. The statue of NaZa is seen in almost all Koxinga temples in Taiwan. This practice can be traced back to the Ming-Cheng soldiers. Where they had settled, working in the field tilling the land, small 三太子 temples were also built.

NaZa was a mischievous youth and one of his deeds eventually got him into big trouble with the East Sea Dragon King for accidentally killing the latter’s son. In order not to cause problems for his parents, he carved up himself and returned the muscles to his mother and bones to his father, thereby paying the debt of birth in full. He was subsequently given a second lease on life by Buddha. NaZa was mentioned in many ancient popular Chinese texts, often described as having unusual power in defeating evil forces. And because he rode on wheels of wind and fire, NaZa has been revered as a guardian angel for those in transportation businesses.

There was no historical account on why the Ming-Cheng soldiers had chosen NaZa as their guardian deity, perhaps as a sorrowful reminder that Koxinga, just like NaZa, was not only estranged from his father but also was no longer cared for by his parents. In any case, it is historically accurate to see NaZa in the Koxinga Temple in Jelutong.