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  • Nanyang huazong: Malaixiya pili yibao yandong miaoyu shilu yu chuanshuo [Trails of the Nanyang Chinese: History and legends of the cave temples in Ipoh of Malaysia] eds. by Tan Ai Boay and Toh Teong Chuan
  • Jack Meng-Tat Chia (bio)
Nanyang huazong: Malaixiya pili yibao yandong miaoyu shilu yu chuanshuo 南洋華蹤: 馬來西亞霹靂怡保岩洞廟宇史錄與傳說 [Trails of the Nanyang Chinese: History and legends of the cave temples in Ipoh of Malaysia]. Edited by Tan Ai Boay 陳愛梅 and Toh Teong Chuan 杜忠全. Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe [ China Social Sciences Press], 2017. 276 pp.

This volume of essays, funded by the Perak Non-Islamic Affairs Department (Unit Hal Ehwal Bukan Islam Negeri Perak, 霹靂州非 伊斯蘭事務局), is an attempt to uncover the history and legends of cave temples (yandong miaoyu 岩洞廟宇) in Ipoh, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Perak. Scholars of Malaysian history have long been interested in Chinese migration to British Malaya and their involvement in Perak's tin mining industry during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. The intention of this volume is not to focus on Chinese tin mines in Perak, but rather to present the lesser-known histories of the numerous cave temples in the Ipoh region. It examines the historical sources and epigraphic records of seven cave temples that were established before the Japanese occupation of Malaya in 1941.

Following the forewords by Tan Chee-Beng 陳志明 (Sun Yatsen University), Wong Sin Kiong 黃賢強 (National University of Singapore), and Mah Hang Soon 馬漢順 (Perak Non-Islamic Affairs Committee), Tan Ai Boay's short introductory essay explains the [End Page 420] background to the volume and the rationale for its focus and themes. Tan's chapter 1 provides a list of thirty-nine cave temples and ten temples located within the caves' surrounding areas. Chapter 2, which reads like a literature review of primary sources, presents an overview of the British colonial records, newspaper articles, and Chinese epigraphic materials concerning the Chinese temples in Perak. She argues for the need to collect and document the print and material sources of the cave temples before they are lost to time. The second chapter ends with a reprint of the Pangkor Treaty of 1874.

The remaining chapters, each focusing on one of the seven cave temples, are organized chronologically based on their year of establishment. Liow Min Wei 廖明威 and Toh Teong Chuan's essay (chapter 3) focuses on Kwong Fook Ngam 廣福岩, the oldest cave temple in Ipoh. The Buddhist temple was established by Venerable Weijia 微嘉 of the Meifeng 梅峰 lineage in 1890. It was once an influential monastery in the Ipoh region prior to the founding of Sam Poh Tong 三寶洞 (the topic of chapter 8). Following the advent of Sam Poh Tong, Kwong Fook Ngam came under the management of the abbot and committee of the newer cave temple. Tan Chaw Hui's 陳昭慧 essay (chapter 4) on Nam Tou Ngam 南道岩 explores the arrival and development of institutional Taoism in Perak. The chapter suggests that Nam Tou Ngam, which was founded by Master Zhong Shankun 鐘善坤 of the Donghua Shan Haiyun lineage 東華山海雲派, marked the earliest presence of the Quanzhen 全真 school of Taoism in Malaysia. Tan Chaw Hui's essay (chapter 5) on Loong Thow Ngam 龍頭岩 examines yet another Quanzhen Taoist cave temple. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this chapter is the description of Master Li Zhenxiang's 李真祥 talismanic practices and healing skills. Liow Min Wei's essay (chapter 6) charts the history of Nam Thean Tong 南天洞, which is considered one of the few cave temples that have maintained their original appearances. Although Nam Thean Tong is a Taoist temple, it houses deities of three religions (sanjiao 三教): Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Additionally, the chapter contains several images of rare handwritten manuscripts. [End Page 421]

Tan Chaw Hui and Tan Ai Boay (chapter 7) look at Tung Wah Tong 東華洞, a cave temple established to serve as a spiritual refuge for early Chinese migrants in Perak. During the Malayan Emergency, the cave temple was once used as a hideout for communist insurgents. In 1980, Tung Wah Tong was registered as Tung Wah Buddhist Meditation Centre (Pusat Meditasi Buddhist Tung Wah), much to the displeasure of the temple's Taoist council members. This chapter ends with Tan Chaw...


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