Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

Knowing me, Knowing you..... Aha.....!

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

An Art Gallery at Perak Cave - Part 2 of 3

This post is about Chinese Art and Culture as depicted at the Perak Cave Temple.

During my recent visit to Perak Cave Temple, I had expected to spend less than an hour covering the whole area but I ended up spending a few hours there, the maximum I could spare before my journey back to Kuala Lumpur. There was so much to see and photograph. Now, I shall take you inside the temple. OK, OK, I'm so sorry if you are bored but I need to write this, otherwise I won't be at peace with myself. Think of me as a little girl who has just found the entrance to a cave of ancient treasures and can't wait to show it to you. If you wish to skip this post, I would like to invite you to read my other posts about gardening. For those who are coming along with me,


Welcome to the world of Chinese Arts and Culture, a world of magical adventures and voyages, where mythical creatures, gods, goddess, fairies, demons and spirits live among mortals and immortals. With 5,000 years of history, we have come a long way...

This is the main entrance to the interior of Perak Cave Temple. If you look at the pillars, you will see chinese writings on all the pillars. How I wish I am able to interpret the meaning and explain to you in detail. Nevertheless, I'm sure they are either poetic verses or auspicious, meaningful words. I truly regret to say that I can't read chinese words! Otherwise, I would have rewritten all the poerty and writings in English. Maybe I am suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) because I need to find the answer and put into words anything that inspires me. It is so difficult to live with ignorance of something that is so fascinating.

“An Art Gallery at Perak Cave - Part 2 of 3”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on 17th October 2009.

As you walk into the temple, you will be greeted by these 2 ceramic Fu Dogs guarding the entrance. Fu Dogs are mythical creatures that look quite similar to lions and they are used as protective symbols to ward off evil and killing energy. As you can observe here, Fu Dogs are not identical twins nor a couple. They are actually a family. The pair of Fu Dogs are usually placed quite high on a pedestal with the male positioned on the left side of the main door (inside looking out) and the female on the right. The male is usually seen with a ball but this one seems to be holding a ruyi. The female has a baby fu dog with her. Together they make a happy protective family that brings peace and prosperity to the homes or buildings that they guard.

On the left here is the main sales counter where devotees can buy incense, joss sticks, candles or other offerings to Buddha and other deities. The table and chairs on the right is actually a fortune telling counter. The method used in fortune telling is called the 3 Lifetime Book. Based on your date and time of birth according to the lunar chinese calendar, the teller will be able to interpret your past, present and next life. The past refers to a previous life before you were reincarnated into this world as a human being. Here they are talking about karma and reincarnation. The teller makes the interpretation from a book called the 3 Lifetime Book ( 三世书 - 'sang shi shu' in Mandarin or 'sam sai she' in cantonese). They will charge a small fee for doing the reading. People say the readings are very accurate and it may stunt you! Do you believe in getting your fortune read? As for me, I'd agree with Doris Day in her Que Sera Sera song, "Whatever will be will be, the future's not ours to see, what will be will be"........

Here are 2 statues of the Four Heavenly Kings on one side of the temple. There is another 2 more on the opposite side. They are the Guardians of the Four Compass Directions, also known as Four Deva Warriors, Four Lords of Dhamma and Four Keepers of the World. Can you see the demons they are stepping on from under their feet?

This is the main statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in the main chamber. It is 40 ft (15m) high. There are also statues of the Laughing Buddha, Thousand-Hand Guan Yin, Master Monk and other deities which are not photographed here.

The wall behind the Buddha is decorated with paintings of deities and there are 2 dragons looking at a magical pearl on the wall above. It is believed that fairies, deities and immortals, all have one of these magical pearls which they have swallowed and which gives them the power of immortality.
Even the metal bell here has inscriptions on it. Perak Cave Temple has more than 200 paintings, calligraphy and poetry by famous artists from Malaysia, South East Asia and the Far East. The contours of the cave walls further enhances these murals. The paintings were drawn with painstaking attention to the intricate details. During the old days, chinese paintings were done by artists who were also wise, learned scholars and great philosophers. Most of the paintings come with a piece of poetry or meaningful quotes.

Here's a painting of a beautiful Goddess. Can you see the stalactites and stalagmites formations and more paintings behind?

These are masterpieces of Eastern art. I like the beautiful flowers, bamboo, pine trees, birds, sages and deities. Some of the flowers are lotuses and peonies. Birds are often depicted in pairs while sages and deities are at rest or deep in meditation. Can you see a halo around their heads?

Cranes are symbols of longevity. They also signify wisdom and preseverence. Here is a picture of a pair of white cranes with a tuff of red feathers on their head, standing beside a pine tree. If you have visited rich Chinese homes, maybe you would have noticed such a picture. This picture denotes a happy, harmonious household lead by the patriach and matriach.

Besides the traditional Eastern art like those above, some artists have blended in Western art influences. Due to time constraints and dwindling camera battery power, I have only managed to photograph a few paintings. There are many more. The interior of this temple is just like an Art Gallery or Art Exhibition hall, except that entrance is FREE!

For some additional information about the art gallery, please visit here.

I would like to admit that this is only the first time that I begin to appreciate the art and the paintings here. As a child, I had thought that they were cave drawings done by ancient cave men. When I learnt enough from the history books to know otherwise, I thought these drawings were done by commercial painters hired by the temple committee. So little is written about the artwork and so much has been left unsaid. There is also not much information available from the tourism brochures. I do hope that more people will come here to admire and appreciate the masterpieces of art and culture and write about it. Meanwhile, most of the information and photographs come from other bloggers' personal experiences.

If you have read my post this far, thank you very much for your time and patience. I hope I have inspired some of you to make the journey there. If you have visited the Perak Cave temple, do let me know your views in a comment here. It doesn't matter if the comment comes a long time after this post is published but it will certainly bring great joy and happiness to me. In my next and final post, I will take you on a hike up to the peak of this limestone hill. Until then, have a Happy Weekend !

This is my entry for Scenic Sunday #66. To participate or view other posts around the world, please click here.

This is also my entry for My World Tuesday Season 2 Episode 2, a meme, strictly non-profit, where we have fun by showing you our world. My special thanks to the MyWorld team: Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy, Louise and Sylvia. See how others view their world or to participate, click here.

Post Publication Update:
On Monday, 15th Nov 2010, The Star ran an article about Dr. Sun Yat Sen pertaining to the 22nd Joint Conference of the Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching-ling memorials in conjunction with the International Centennial Celebrations of Sun Yat-sen's "Penang Conference" to be held between Nov 19-22, 2010. The full article titled, "Perak's Former Tin Mining Towns Linked to Sun Yat-sen " can be read here.

Perak Cave Temple chairman Chong Yin Chat said Yu was a friend of his father Chong Seng Yee, who was the last batch of graduates of the prestigious Whampoa Military Academy in Guangzhou. Yin Chat had set up a Sun Yat-sen Gallery at the temple in 1995 in honour of the Father of Modern China. On display at the gallery are photographs of Dr Sun, a bust presented by the Sun Yat Sen memorial museum in Taiwan, calligraphy works and reproductions of letters by Dr Sun.


  1. Autumn Belle, what an incredible place you visited! Thank you for taking us on the tour! Paintings are beautiful. They brought back memories of my life in China in 1990-1991. You have a great weekend!

  2. Autumn Belle,
    A wonderful tour! I'm particularly interested in learning more about art and architecture associated with Buddhism, as I've been studying Buddhist meditation recently.
    The two statues pictured above the first Buddha look like Hindu gods to me.
    Perhaps the temple's artists - from all the different countries/regions you mention, create a 'melded' imagery that represents varied teachings & philosophies? Or perspectives?

  3. Hello Autumn Belle,
    That cave is utterly amazing! I cannot believe the detail in those pictures. Thanks so much for sharing this... it truly is a wonder! And you are a wonderful photographer!

  4. What an amazing place is that cave. Thank you for the tour. So special.

  5. OMG! I have never seen anything like that in my life. What an amazing and beautiful place. I think that would simply take my breath away to stand there in person. Thank you so much for sharing this. :-)

  6. Really Belle..., I never venture deep into caves. The only experience was in Perlis, one of the famous caves there. I know, caves in Perak are numerous and beautiful. Thanks for sharing..... ~bangchik

  7. Autumn Belle .. oh I feel so insignificant here. I don't even know the cave exist. thanks for sharing.

  8. I have not seen these paintings during my last visit. I should have gone there today if I know earlier. Sigh...

    By the way, I have visited Gua Kek Look Tong this afternoon.

  9. A 15 m high golden Buddha, cave paintings.. I for sure enjoyed my walk along the cave. I find it educating reading your texts as well, and a bit poetic. Be proud of your heritage. Thank you :)

  10. Autumn Belle, I will never see this with my own eyes, so thank you for taking me there. Makes me think about novels I have read, set in Tibet.

  11. What amazing paintings and a wonderful place.

  12. What a find, both for personal reasons and also for photography! I would love to see that cave someday...perfect Scenic Sunday post!

  13. Wow! Such a captivating and enlightening post, Autumn Belle! It's like I'm actually touring this lovely cave with a fabulous tour guide beside me! Thanks so much for sharing the beauty within with great pictures and writings. I've visited this cave before about 5 years ago but I can clearly see now that I've missed so much...haha, had eyes then that did not see! Will definitely fave your lovely blog at my botanical have such interesting sharings here.
    Look forward to visiting your blog more often when time permits.
    Cheers and have a lovely Sunday!
    Happy Deepavali! :-D

  14. Tatyana, Rosey, Mary Delle, LeSan, Bangchik, Blossom, Jams O Donnel, Mia, Diana, Joanne, Carolyn.

    Thank you so much for following me on the tour. I’m so glad you came and your words of compliments were additional bonuses for me to cherish.

    Alice (Bay Area Tendrils), Chinese art & culture has influences from Taoism, Confucius, Hinduism and Buddhism since ancient times. Now, Perak Cave is a Buddhist temple. When you look at the paintings, it is not surprising to see Chinese gods that look like Hindu gods or Buddhas depicted in the paintings. So, I guess you are right.

    Rainfield, maybe you are like me. I have gone there many times before but did not really notice the paintings. I guess if you understand something better, you will see and appreciate more. That’s what happened to me. Hope you had a great time at Kek Lok Tong Cave. I’ll be checking your blog soon to read about your adventure.

    Jacqueline, thank you for your fave which is very precious to me. Like you, I too didn’t really ‘see’ the paintings during my previous visits to Perak Cave. Maybe we can look at it this way. When we understand better, we can appreciate more, just like after we get to know our darlings, they are no longer strangers to us and that’s why we fell in love with them! LOL.

  15. Thanks for the tour of the caves, they are beautiful. Amazing photos. My hubby would love these caves, he is a "spleunker".

  16. Incredible pictures! Each one holds so much history, and breath-taking beauty!

  17. Very nice display of wall art here! I wonder how long the artist used to draw one. This big cave is definitely a haven for those artists who have the passion in drawing onto cave walls.

  18. I never knew about Fu Dogs - I often thought that they are the lions. Its a sad thing that these Caves were not made famous thru brochures and all.
    If you didn't share this info Belle - I wouldn't even know they existed - so thank you for sharing this.

  19. What a unique post. Paintings are wonderful as well as the buddha. Thanks for sharing with us as we could have never see all this.I am sure you would have enjoyed very much.

  20. Eileeninmd, DoanLegacy, Khabbab, thank you very much for the visit and nice comments. I appreciate it very much.

    Stephanie, I think the artists are teachers and students who are invited guests of the founder. I see that they are some living quarters in the main front block. Maybe, they came and discussed poetry, arts and the classics before doing the drawings just like in ancient China. I'd like to think that they are imparting culture onto the walls of Perak Caves.

    James, there is some difference between a chinese lion and a fu dog. In reality, China does not have any lions. Lions are culture brought in along with Buddhism. Lions has been improvised by the chinese resulting in Fu Dogs and also lions that don't exactly look like lions. Usually, chinese lions are fierce looking, their feet have sharp claws and they sit in a 'ready to pounce' stance. The Fu Dogs are more 'playful' and usually depicted as male playing with a ball and female with a baby.

  21. Fabulous post! Amazing photos and info! Enchanting! Great job!

  22. That was a great tour. They should hire you as a guide. Thanks for teh Fu Dog info. We bought two Fu Dogs a few years ago and weren't sure how to place them. Yay! We got it right!

  23. Kiki, Slyvana, thank you veyr much for the compliments. I'm so glad you like this post.

  24. Autumn Belle,
    Thanks for the wonderfull post on Perak tong temple. Your description of the temple and the hike up the stairs are realistic. I have used the photos of your post on my blog Thanks.

  25. Mr Rajesh CTR, tank you very much for putting my link in your "Hill Temples" blog, under the post titled of "Perak Tong". I truly appreciate your actions of informing me about it and not making any changes to my photos. Thank you once again for protecting my intellectual property rights and for publicising Perak Cave Temple to your readers.

    I wish to welcome you to My Nice Garden. I also look forward to visiting your blog to learn more about the temples around the world. What a great idea to write a blog about them.

    Happy Blogging and Good Luck!

  26. Rajesh, I find that your blog doesn't allow for comments. I wish to inform you that I have added your link to my Perak Cave Temple Part 3 post.


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