Leng Ou Village is over a thousand years old. Because of its location near the old port when the Teochew diaspora happened in the early 20th century, many had returned and built/renovated their ancestral shrines in this ancient village.
The streets of the ancient village were laid out according to Yi-Ching principles. The whole township is bordered by River Han towards the East and multiple ponds on the West side. Three main streets form the East End (the Earth end), while six shorter streets form the West End (the Sky end); thus forming the Tai formation 泰卦 which signifies smooth passage and prosperity.
Four main roads criss-cross in the town are called streets, the rest are referred to as lanes, and every lane has a name appropriate to the inhabitants (or former inhabitants) of the lane.
Ancestral Worship 祠堂文化
Chaozhou is not just about Han WenGong Shrine (located downtown), just in this ancient village, there are Ah Po Shrine built in the Qing dynasty, Teacher Shrine (Ming dynasty); there’s the Koh Family Shrine built during the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle, Lim Family Shrine (Ming Emperor Chongzhen), Duke Gu Shrine (Qing Emperor Kangxi), Duke Ho Shrine (Qing Emperor Daoguang), Duke of Loyalty Shrine (Qing Emperor Guangxu), and many others within these 18 square blocks.
Ah Po Shrine 阿婆祠
China’s First Ancestral Shrine for Female 中国第一个女祠堂
A must-see in the ancient town is the Ah Po Shrine. This shrine was built by a retired official (referred to as gentry) Huang Zuoyu in the Qing dynasty to commemorate the passing of her mother. The sign was written by a prominent scholar. Such prominence and elaborate setup was unusual for a woman, lest to say a woman of low birth status. His mother was a slave-servant girl of the family.
Because she was a servant girl (who later became the concubine of the Huangs), she was not allowed to be worship in the shrine. Huang fought hard the establishment (and used a considerable amount of his immense wealth) to build this first shrine in China for a woman. The size of this shrine is unique too – it was built next to the Huang Family shrine and twice its size. This was said because Huang was never ashamed of his mother’s low birth status, which was a behaviour way ahead of its time.
You can still see evidence of rituals and worships from yesteryears. You can see mosaics on the wall showing examples of filial piety, emphasising the theme of this shrine – a son’s pious and memories towards his departed mother.
Teacher Shrine 先生祠
The Most Unique Ancestral Shrine in China 中国最独一无二的祠堂
Right opposite Ah Po Shrine is a very unique shrine for Wang TongChu, a teacher in this town back in the Ming Emperor Wanli era (1573-1620), hence the nickname Teacher Shrine. Because he passed away without any heir, his students came together to put up this shrine. In 1762, the descendants of the original seven came together to rebuild the shrine and asked the magistrate of that time, Zhou Shuoxun, to write the epitaph.
Chaozhou Snacks 潮州小吃
Almost all of the current inhabitants are involved in some form of home factory production of Teochew snacks. The price here was definitely cheaper than those in the city, and the taste more authentic too. However, because they were hand-made, the quality control can be a problem.
There are three Chaoshans – the hometown in Guangdong, the Teochew spread across China, and the Teochew spread around the world. But no matter where they are, Teochew still care about their hometown because of gratitude and filial piety. And that’s why we made this trip to our ancestral hometown.