Bo-Yuen painting in his studio.
APRIL 14 — There are quite a few festivals that fall in April. For the Chinese community, there’s the annual Ts’ing-ming when they visit the graves in honour of their ancestors.
For the Christians they observe Good Friday and Easter, the death and rebirth of their saviour Jesus Christ. And the Thais who live here celebrate Songkran, the annual water festival signalling their lunar New Year.
It is in this mixed mood of death and birth that I write about two nonagenarian Malaysian artists. The venerable Bo-Yeun, 96, passed away this week and Fung Yow Chork, 91, is critically ill in hospital (I shall write about him in another article).
In the early years, there were two well-known artists/monks in Penang. One was the late venerable Chuk Mor from the Triple Wisdom Temple and the other was Bo-Yeun from the Kek Lok Si temple. After many years, Bo-Yuen left Penang in 1961 to set up the Hu-Bin Vihara in Petaling Jaya.
They were among the first batch of young monks who migrated from Fujian, China, to serve in the local temples. Their passing marks the end of that line of descendants from China.