TANKI     The Ancient Gods, Rituals and Spirit-Mediumship of Folk Taoism in Modern Singapore

Tan Wee Cheng, Singapore   weecheng.com   Tanki - Gods & Mediums Mainpage


Why This Site:

Statement of Objectives

Having been brought up in a typical middle class family, Folk Taoism is not something that I am exposed to in a major way. Despite being one of the major religions in Singapore, this aspect of local Chinese culture is hardly promoted, written about or celebrated.

Many well-educated Chinese Singaporeans see Folk Taoism or associated practices as embarrassment, and something one pretends doesn't exist. In fact, one can hardly find any book in the bookstores about the real traditional beliefs and everyday practices of Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia, as opposed to that practiced in China, which one can find in abundance.

I stumbled onto this fascinating aspect of our cultural heritage last year and am still learning more about it. Increasingly, during this process, I have realized how closely linked these practices are to the culture of our southern Chinese ancestors. Gradually, I am finding the pieces of our cultural puzzle falling into place.

What began as an unusual exuberant mix between the Han of the Yellow Valley and the colourful spiritual traditions of the Min-Yue tribal roots of the South, arrived in Southeast Asia with our immigrant forefathers 200 years ago, interacted with local Hindu/pre-Islamic Malay traditions to produce the even more bizarre rojak or combination that exists here today.

This is not meant to be a Taoist website - for I am not Taoist and have no ambition to promote Taoism as a religion here. As a start, this site seeks to promote awareness of Folk Taoism as a critical piece of the kaleidoscope that is Singapore's cultural heritage. It seeks to document, through photos and articles, Folk Taoism as a cultural and anthropological phenomenon, in particular, the rituals of the spirit medium, also known as the Tanki.

Let me express my gratitude to the following individuals without whose assistance I would not have been able to explore this fascinating aspect of our cultural heritage: Victor Yue, Andi, Jave Wu, Eng Teck.

Feel free to drop me your comments.

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Tan Wee Cheng 2004