Han Jiang Ancestral Temple is the only Teochew-style temple in Georgetown. Awarded the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation in 2006, it is run by the Penang Teochew Association. The temple is dedicated to the Taoist God of the North, a Teochew patron deity.
The temple serves as the heart of Teochew culture in Penang. Recently, a project, funded by the local Teochew community, was undertaken to restore the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple. Traditional craftsmen imported from China carried out the brunt of the restoration works.
In 1885, due to the rising number of Teochew immigrants from China to Penang, the Teochew Kongsi was formed when six immigrants banded together and bought a house at Lebuh Beach.
In 1869, it moved to its present site at Lebuh Chulia and became the precursor to the Teochew Kongsi; in 1935 its name was changed to the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple.
Originally the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple was built in the si dian jing-style (four point gold): gables of the roofs forming a square around a small central courtyard. In 1890, when the Teochew community was thriving, funds were allocated for a more elaborate Chinese-style gate building.
The inner temple is reached through three doors (a typical Teochew design); the colourful and elaborate Yu Gate on the roof, an archway with a dragon statue, is just one of the many intricate sculptures in the temple.
Though the exterior façade of Han Jiang Ancestral Temple is plain, the interior is ornately decorated: check out the detailed outline of the temple's restoration on the main walls inside the temple.
Following Confucian tradition, the inner temple of Han Jiang Ancestral Temple houses ancestral tablets of deceased Teochews. The beautiful Hall of Respect and the elaborate Fraternity signboard are just a few attractions within this temple that merit closer inspection.
In addition to its efforts in physically revitalising Teochew architecture through the restoration of Han Jiang Ancestral Temple, the Penang Teochew Association has been working side-by-side with Han Jiang Ancestral Temple to conserve Teochew heritage, namely by reviving Teochew opera, food and cultural activities.