Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Datuk Kong

Malaysiakini - Klang local council demolishes shrine resembling dome of a mosque (extracts):

The Klang Municipal Council (MPK) demolished a shrine with a mosque-like dome in Jalan Makyong 5E/KU5, Bukit Raja near Shah Alam today after it was built without approval from the Klang District and Land Office. [...]

"This shrine is built on government land ... MPK had ordered the owner to relocate or demolish the structure, the owner had also promised to do so after Chinese New Year. However, no action was taken until last night," she said in a statement in Shah Alam.

As such, Norfiza said MPK and the district office, with the assistance of the police carried out the demolition in accordance with the Drainage and Building Act for building a structure on government land.

What it probably was, in my best guess, would have been a 'Datuk Kong' shrine, one of a local guardian spirit (of a Malay - hence the honorific of 'Datuk' while 'Kong' is just a Chinese title for a deity or spirit) usually worshipped or patronised by mostly Chinese, though in some cases, Malays and Indians have been worshippers too - well, at least Malays from an earlier time as today they would be horse-whipped for such alleged apostasy.

Naturally Chinese who are Buddhists, Confucianists and Taoists would frown on worship of a roadside shrine housing a local guardian spirit.

Buddhists do not worship any gods but rather pay homage to Lord Buddha, Arahants and Boddhisattvas (the last two being those who have supposedly attained nirvana), while Confucianists pay homage to Kung Tze himself and the spirits of their own ancestors, hence Confucianism is sometimes described as 'ancestor-worship' or more correctly 'showing reverence for ancestors'.

Kung Tze 

'Pay homage' in this sense means 'show respect or/and reverence or/and honour to' but fall short of 'worship' as devout and fully committed worship in Abrahamic religions.

For Taoists a 'Datuk Kong' does (or did) not even belong to mainstream Chinese deities, and is thus outside the domain of Taoist beliefs and not to be followed or revered.

The worship of 'Datuk Kong' has been mainly by Chinese animists or followers of folk religions, but who are sometimes so confused with their religious affiliations, especially in Malaysia, that they describe themselves (incorrectly) as Buddhists, Confucianists or Taoists, especially the last.

Poor undeserving Taoism, wakakaka.

However, some of my far more cleverer friends say there is a faint possibility that some Confucianists might have conflate their ancestor-reverence with the guardian spirits (viewed as a form of dead ancestors or elderly senior citizens), thus embracing the local Malay spirits as part of their ancestor-reverence.

reverence for ancestors

Usually at a Chinese temple, a 'Datuk Kong' shrine lies outside the temple house, indicating it does not belong to the rank or pantheon of Chinese deities.

Now, as alluded above, the majority of 'Datuk Kong' worshipped all over Malaysia, especially in the Peninsula, would be Malays who were once holy men, famous warriors, renowned healers, etc.

There are reputedly a couple of Chinese 'Datuk Kong' but I have never personally seen any shrine dedicated to them, well, not in Penang or Kuala Lumpur anyway.

In Penang, there was a Malay saint or spirit (Keramat) said to be worshipped by one of the Malay settlements on Penang (or as it was then called in pre British days, Pulau Kasatu) prior to British development of the Isle. At that time, the shrine was only accessible by river which I believe was the Ayer Itam River.

ut with decades of developments and accompanying environmental desecration, pollution of and channelling away of water from the Ayer Itam River for industrial use, especially in the last 40 years during the previous state government (1969 to 1988, and so far not yet ameliorated by the present state government), the river is now almost depleted of its once plentiful flowing water and thus useless as a form of travel.

Thank goodness for the presence of a road built near the shrine, namely, Jalan Dato Keramat, which was obviously named supposedly in honour of the same Keramat

I heard the Keramat shrine has been moved away as the mosque along Jalan Dato Keramat (where the shrine was) sold its land away.

Shrine of Datuk Panglima Hijau on Pangkor Island

photo in Dec 2007 by
Gryffindor in Wikimedia common

he above example of Datuk Panglima Hijau is one of several 'Datuk Kong' in Peninsula Malaysia. I wonder whether it was built by Chinese?

Apparently Datuk Panglima Hijau is reputed to be the 4th ranking spiritual 'Datuk Kong' in Malaysia.

There are probably dozens and dozens of 'Datuk Kong' worshipped by Chinese animists in Peninsula, but the 9 best known 'Datuk Kong', according to their seniority from the eldest to the youngest, are:

1. Datuk Panglima Ali (Ali)
2. Datuk Panglima Hitam (Black)
3. Datuk Panglima Harimau (Tiger)
4. Datuk Panglima Hijau (Green)
5. Datuk Panglima Kuning (Yellow)
6. Datuk Panglima Putih (White)
7. Datuk Panglima Bisu (Mute)
8. Datuk Panglima Merah (Red)
9. Datuk Panglima Bongsu (Youngest)

Datuk Panglima Ali 

Datuk Panglima Harimau 

Datuk Panglima Putih

all 3 images above in accordance with the creativity of Chinese worshippers (wakakaka)

I'm not exactly sure which would be our Datuk Keramat in Penang, or perhaps he would be unique and different?

But in my kiddie days I personally have visited (with village 'aunties') the shrines of Datuk Panglima Harimau,  Datuk Panglima Hijau and Datuk Panglima Bisu.

Apparently the last, Datuk Panglima Bisu, was very popular with the village 'aunties', wakakaka.

Incidentally, in Penang they have been also known as 'Natuk Kong', which mispronunciation has more to do with the Chinese inability to pronounce words with 'D' (hence in pinyin, 'T-words' without aspiration in their pronunciations is written as 'D' as in 'Da' for 'big').

The Chinese are more inclined to mispronounce 'D' as a nasal 'N' which could be good for Penangites learning French, wakakaka.

Votive offerings in worship of 'Datuk Kong' must be halal, though we needn't bother about JAKIM's halal certificate, wakakaka.

Chinese worshippers would never ever use haram foodstuff etc, in exactly the same honest way a Chinese who uses a joss bundle* (of joss sticks, paper money, oil, etc) at a Chinese temple would never ever forget to pay before he leaves the temple.

* at Chinese temples, joss bundles and bottles of oil may be taken for use without any permission or prior payment, but payment for those items are 100% guaranteed, for no worshipper would dare cheat.

What use is a prayer if one cheats the temple? It's like cheating a deity or spirit.

Only some people from the East Coast of Peninsula would do that, wakakaka.

Anyway, back to our roadside shrine in Klang - some too-clever-by-half bloke must have added the mosque-like dome plus a crescent & star insignia to the shrine in thinking the 'Datuk Kong' that's worshipped there might feel more at home, wakakaka.

He should have known better as Muslims in Malaysia are easily confused.

the more common style of a 'Datuk Kong' shrine 


  1. natuk kong not necessarily a muslim, most probably a malay though, since there used to be freedom of religion in the past wakaka. n i believe chinese does use haram foodstuff, but if naduk is now a chinese deity, haram or no haram is not relevant. not sure whats yr point.

    1. why do you think Datuk Kong is a Chinese deity?

      Is Jesus also a Chinese deity?

    2. if a non christian chinese pray to jesus, then jesus is a chinese deity to that chinese. just like when we pray to a monkey, the monkey become our deity. is this not how taoism the religion work?

    3. why would a non-Christian Chinese pray to Jesus? Don' talk cock lah. Don't bring in Monkey because he's a Chinese deity

    4. i am not one that claim non christian chinese pray to jesus. u asked me is jesus a chinese deity n i answered, start with the word 'if'.

      the reason y chinese can pray to almost anyone n anything including monkey, malay datuk or indian buddha is because we treasure inclusiveness, at least in the context of religion. malay use to be inclusive, that is y we can share a datuk. we dun pray to jesus bec christianity is exclusive, they disallow their believer to worship anything except jesus. if we disagree with their way, they would enlighten us with gun n warship.

      u (n ck) only see the official version of chinese religion, however the one that influence the people most is actually the folk n commoner version ie like guan gong, nazha, tua pek kong / natuk.

      btw, no matter how hard u try, most malay only wan to be a muslim n nothing else.

    5. chinese buddhists know that buddha was an indian (not a chinese), chinese non-christians know jesus was a jew (not a chinese, chinese folk religionists know that monkey was of chinese creation so please lah, domn't bullshit about inclusiveness. Chinese non-christians pray to anyone because they want guarantees of sorts, even from malay or indian deities, which has been why chinese have been the greatest devotees of lord subramaniam (thaipusam)

    6. 佛教东传 to China has been 汉化 through thousand of years' 'includive' modifications.

      The most critical inclusive element is the transient RESPECT the Chinese pay to someone/something bcoz of the good deeds shown by these entities. Note, there is zero religious element here!

      This is 尊崇道义, the core of every CinaBeng's tradition, tracing back long before 儒家思想 set foot in that tradition.

      It has zilch element of supernatural cpncept, which many of u like to associate with!

      It's an intra-being interaction that eventually being converted into folk n commoner version with god-like ceremonial procedure.

      That's the reason y chinese can pray to almost anyone n anything bcoz of this treasured inclusiveness.

      I sincerely hope that yr idea of inclusiveness is THAT - one of the same!

      BTW, what official version of Chinese religion is u talking about? When is there such a concept?

      Perhaps it grows out of yr frequent 'friendly' jom makan with the zombies, who has a dying claim on an official religion.

      Otherwise, like those Penang mamak (Melayu palsu), their identity is nothing!

      BTWx2, can u make such an outrageous statement - most malay only wan to be a muslim n nothing else?

      Who r u, for them?

      If u have that 'cable', then tell them to be with peace with their Allah within their own hearts lah. That's the ONLY true way of been submissive & act as His servants.

      Forcing every damned Islamic ways, as if it's the ONLY way, for the common masses, is NOT the way of only wan to be a muslim n nothing else!!!!

    7. The Taiping Rebellion in Qing China, one of the largest insurrections in human history, was the outcome of a leader , and his core followers, who regarded Jesus as a Chinese diety.

      They cannot be considered Christians in any conventional sense.
      There was never any church or Christian theology associated with the Taiping rebellion.
      They basically absorbed Jesus-worship like any Chinese-Taoist deity-worship.

    8. during a funeral, the buddhist monk (heshang), the daoist priest (daoshi) n the scholar (rusheng) perform their own ritual in the same place n no one claim who is more holy than the others, that is inclusive.

  2. If Datuk Gong symbolises socialization between the Chinese and Malay communities, and it can help maintain harmonious ethnic relations, then let it be la..

    Perhaps, the government can consider allowing limited use of Islamic signs and symbols in Datuk Gong in order to demonstrate a congruence between Chinese and Malay culture that has allowed Chinese folk religion to localize.

    Of course Malay Muslims don't do keramat worship anymore but I know there are some Malays who still do. The pure form of Islam is to pray only to Allah - the only God.

    BTW the female version of Datuk Gong is Datuk Nenek or Na-du-nai-nai.

    1. The concept of 汉化 has long been practised by the Hui Chinese in the essence of substance over form!

    2. In Penang, there are still a number of Muslim shrines , tombs of holy men, venerated mostly by Indian Muslims.

      There is one to Dato Koyah, near Transfer Road, and another one to Nagore Durgha Sheriff, at the junction of Chulia Street and King Street.

      As Penang Indian Muslims more and more identify themselves as Malay, denying their Muslim Indian heritage, these shrines increasingly fall into disuse and lack of maintenance.

      Some Chinese also used to pray there for 4-Digit or DaMaCai numbers.

  3. Year of monkey is over, now everybody can talk cock. That shrine could be for the red shirt Datuk Jamal since he can do a lot of things others can't.

    1. "Year of monkey is over, now everybody can talk cock"

      wakakaka, very droll, Teo

  4. Taoism is fundamentally pantheistic.
    Even in China, this had included paying respects to place spirits. This may have been an accretion from the animist beliefs which predated Chinese dynastic conquests.

    When the Chinese came to Malaya they continued the practice, except the place spirits are now Datuk Kong.

    I have to say, dressing up the shrine with an Onion Dome associated with Islamic religious buildings was insensitive.

    1. actually Taoism is very high yet simple-to-implement philosophy, that of being in tune with nature, of being effortless in our ways, and at one with the universe.

      the worship of folk religion or animism or shamanism is nowadays called Shenism (from the word 神) rather than incorrectly Taoism

      Shenism includes Datuk Kong worship.

      The mosque-like dome is not due to any insensitivity but (uneducated?) ignorance. That shrine or temple for Datuk Kong is not the only one in Peninsula which has a mosque-like dome. That's because the Chinese devotees believe the Datuk Kong would be more happy in a Muslim-type habitat, wakakaka -

      It's due more to the Chinese devotees' respect for the Muslimness in Datuk Kong rather than insensitivity towards Muslims

    2. taoism is a thought, daojiao is a religion. google zhang daoling.

      shenism is a western term from a western angle, i doubt chinese know what is shenism.

  5. This one is a big shrine in Loyang , Singapore, with an Islamic motif.
    Very famous for punters.

    You must not offer any pork dish offering, and should refrain from eating pork on the day you go to pray at the shrine.