Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Chingay

Chingay is originated from China, and the Penang Chinese first performed Chingay in 1899 during deity processions. It is a street art where the performer balances a giant flag that ranges from 25 ft to 32 ft in height and about 60 pounds in weight. The word “Chingay” is coined from the Hokkien dialect, which means “True Art”(“Chin”( ) – “True”; “Gay” ( ) – “Art”). (note:the Gay of Hokkien is similar to Japanese word "Geisha芸者",Gei is the meaning of Art in Japanese.)

Over the years, the local Chinese has been improvising the Chingay performance. From a basic giant flag balancing by a solo performer, Chingay has developed to a team performance that consists of more than 15 persons in a troupe. Today, Chingay is not only performed by the Chinese, but the art has successfully attracted the Malays and Indians. It has become a very unique multiracial performance. The popularity of CHINGAY in Penang in particular, has also made it one of the very interesting cultural landmarks as well as an important tourist attraction.

The is the true art of Penang which has more than 100 years of history. The Penang Chingay performers have been challenging the complexity in Chingay performance. What we see today, is beyond the balancing of the giant flag, but a fusion of acrobatic and balancing stunts. It is now a form of acro-balance performance.

(source: Penang Tourism,Cultute, Art & Heritage committee,

In Penang, there is an annual Chingay procession in December of the year. There will be also annual Chingay competition held each year. For this year's competition,it will be on 26-7-2009(Sunday morning) at the world heritage site of Esplanade,Penang. If you missed these two events, some time if you are lucky Chingay will also be performed in specific function or events, like National Day...

This is the culture that evolved from Penang, which has become a national culture.Chingay is performed by all races of Malaysia. As a small boy, I loved to watch Chingay procession, the annual Chingay procession will passed in front of our pre-war shophouse. I was able to watch the whole procession from the window. Our neighbourhood also was the pioneer who initiated the Chingay , and involved actively in the art. We have a specific team for Chingay. In the evenings before the December Chingay procession, you can always see the participants practiced the art. It is not only culture, it is childhood memory.

For detail of the Chingay , please web site www., the official web site of Penang Chingay Association.

Watch the Penang Chingay video clip from youtube:

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