Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) birth name was Ma San Bao. That is why every temples dedicated to Admiral Zheng He being titled as Sam Poo Kong. In Cantonese dialect – Sam Poo Kong or San Bao Dong in Chinese dialect means San Bao cave.
History of The Great Temple of Sam Poo Kong – Semarang began when Admiral Zheng He’s expedition ship decided to made a stop at Simongan beach on 1416. Their ship captain – Wang Jing Hong fell ill and need immediate treatment. A stone cave became Zheng He’s resting place and also to treat Wang Jing Hong’s condition.
Actually this is the 5th time Admiral Zheng He and his crew landed their foot in Java. The first time they arrived in Java was on 1406.
While Wang stayed at that stone cave to fully rest, Admiral Zheng He continued his journey to the East. He needs to accomplished the peacemaking mission also the ceramic and herbs trading.
During his stay at Simongan, Wang Jing Hong leads his men to try farming, building houses dan get along with the locals. Trading and farming activities initiated by Wang affected the local’s economy growth.
He gain respects but Wang never forget his leader. On 1417, Wang built Admiral Zheng He’s statue inside the stone cave. So the locals able to remember and send respects to him.
Wang died at the age of 87 years old and being buried around that area. Since then, the locals call his burial ground as Makam Kyai Juru Mudi (The Ship Captain’s Tomb).
When the stone cave collapsed after a massive slide on 1704, the locals built a new cave beside the Ship Captain’s Tomb.
The Great Temple of Sam Poo Kong itself has been restored a few times since then until now. Unstable political condition after Indonesia’s independence and flood were two major problems that the temple must faced. In 1965, Sam Poo Kong Foundation was founded by Thio Siong Thouw.
A full-scale restoration held in January 2002 by the Sam Poo Kong Foundation to prevent flood and other problems may occur. Restoration completed in August 2005, along with the 600 years Admiral Zheng He’s arrival in Semarang celebration.
After a full-scale restoration, the main temple dedicated to pay respect to Admiral Zheng He becoming more majestic and vast. Indonesia’s Minister of Trade – Mari Elka Pangestu and Central Java province Governor – H. Mardiyanto attended the inauguration ceremony.