Penang Heritage Tip :: Goldsmiths’ Guild a.k.a Ta Kam Hong

The Goldsmiths’ Guild or Ta Kam Hong founded in 1832, is the oldest and largest guild for goldsmiths in Malaysia. The present guild temple on Muntri Street was built in 1903. Like the Carpenters’ Guild, the artisans belonging to the Goldsmiths’ Guild also hail from Toi Shan district in Guangdong province and speak the Sinling dialect. Both guild temples reflect a kind of Cantonese style architecture, which had developed in colonial urban settings. The decorative centrepiece of the temple’s front hall is an impressive old bonsai plant.

Address: 41 Muntri Street, George Town.

At the Goldsmiths’ Guild’s main altar, a statue of Wu Ching now sits – worshipped as the patron deity of goldsmiths. Clocked in a majestic yellow robe laden with gold leaves, he watches over the guild’s members, which currently stands at about 500.

Rows of ancestral tablets behind the main altar, an antique drum and bell, faded old photographs of the guild’s philanthropists and the guild’s senior members passing their time sipping tea and indulging in a game of mahjong remind visitors of a golden era.

Who is Wu Ching?

According to tourism penang website,

Once upon a time in ancient China, there lived a talented goldsmith whose skill was second to none. His name was Wu Ching. To help his disfigured sister win the emperor’s heart, Wu Ching committed one of the worst crimes imaginable – deceiving the emperor! Because his sister had wanted so much to marry the ruler, he crafted a beautiful butterfly-shaped gold mask to hide the scar on her face so that she may have a chance to be with her beloved. But when the emperor removed the mask and saw the scar, he was furious and ordered that Wu Ching be put to death – an act he later regretted when he remembered the goldsmith’s magnificent mask and how China had now lost one of its most gifted craftsmen.”

Another version is Wu Ching was born in Song dynasty, he crafted a beautiful gold mask for a pretty girl with a scar on her face before she was selected as imperial concubine. Her scar was found out by emperor on the wedding day. Cheating emperor carried a death sentence in ancient China, thus Wu Ching was executed. The emperor regretted later and gave him posthumous officialdoms (工部尚書和文華殿大學士).

Photo Gallery

Interior hall

Location Map

GPS Coordinates: 5°25’10.92″N 100°20’8.89″E Geotag Icon Show on map