Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Menarik: Bukit Cina

Bukit China is the largest Chinese cemetery outside of mainland China. Graves can be found here that go back to the late Ming dynasty (mid 17th century). The earliest grave found so far dates to 1622, but unfortunately many graves were exhumed during the British occupation of Malaysia.

Somewhat earlier, the Portuguese built a Franciscan chapel on this hill dedicated to "Madre de Deus" (Mother of God) but it was destroyed along with an adjacent monastery during the Achinese attack of 1629.

The early cemetery that existed on this site (including the one grave dated to 1622) was fairly small. The site was greatly expanded during the Dutch occupation when Kapitan China (a Portuguese term for the head of the Chinese community) Lee Wei King bought the hill from the Dutch and donated it to the Chinese community of Melaka for use as a burial ground. It now contains over 12,500 graves and is almost full. 

Public burials have ceased, and what few open plots remain are reserved for members of the Standing and Advisory committee of Cheng Hoon Teng temple.