Masjid Cheng Ho, Palembang Overview

Masjid Cheng Ho is a contemporary mosque in Jakabaring Palembang, South Sumatra which caters to the local Muslim community and represents the congruous co-existence of the Arabic and Chinese cultures in the country. It was founded by the initiative of the senior members of the Chinese Islamic Association of Indonesia (Persatuan Islan Tionghoa Indonesia, PITI).

Its constructions began in 2003 and it was officially named Al Islam Muhammad Cheng Ho Sriwijaya Palembang Mosque when it was finally inaugurated in 2006. The elaborate moniker is in honour of an iconic Chinese merchant of the 15th century, Zheng He.

As a traveller, if you want to take an offbeat route to explore the wonders of Palembang, Masjid Cheng Ho can be a good addition to the list. It has sincere blends of Chinese, Malay and Arabic styles of architecture, both in design and colour codes of the structure. Other than being the place of worship for the local Muslim community, it is also a centre of free education of Islamic learning.

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History

Although the mosque is a modern one, built entirely in this century, the origin of its name is quite a historic one. Masjid Cheng Ho is named after Admiral Zheng He, a Chinese trader of 15th century. His influence on the city of Palembang is rooted in the extensive trade relations between Chinese, Middle-Eastern and Malay merchants, who gathered at this South Sumatran port city to do business in textile, spices and porcelain. Zheng He visited Palembang four times during his expeditionary days and helped strengthen Malay-Chinese bonds in Indonesia.

Architecture

If you want to witness how much influence Chinese style has on the structures of Palembang, Masjid Cheng Ho would be a great place to start. The facade of the mosque is dominated with red and jade green shades - a classic combination of Islamic and Chinese colour palettes. The style of architecture is also a typical harmonious blend between the two. If you look closely, the minarets on either side of the mosque happen to resemble Chinese pagodas as well. Simply put, the mosque reflects perfectly how both the cultures take up equal space and command similar influence in the fabric of the city of Palembang.

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