Bukit Cina is the ancestral burial ground of Malacca’s Chinese community. Also known as Chinese Hill, it is the largest and oldest Chinese graveyard outside of China itself with over 12,500 graves. Although it is primarily a graveyard for early Chinese settlers, the cemetery has about 20 Muslim tombs, too.The oldest grave in Bukit Cina is that of Tin Kap, the first Chinese kapitan (a mediatory position created by the Dutch East India Company which made it possible for them to rule the various ethnic communities). These days the 20ha hill is chiefly used as a jogging track.
The burial ground’s fame began with a marriage: Until the 15th century Chinese contact with the Malay Peninsula was vague; then in 1949, Emperor Yung Lo sent his envoy, Admiral Cheng Ho, to establish commercial relations with Malacca.
Instituting a promising settlement-with-vassal relationship, Sultan Mansur Shah of Malacca married the Ming emperor’s daughter, Princess Hang Liu to seal relations between the two countries.
The Ming Bride
According to Malay history the marriage of the sultan to the daughter of the Emperor resulted in a dramatic influx of Chinese settlers because when the princess arrived she brought along a sizeable retinue that included 500 handmaidens.
The Ming Bride set up home on Bukit Cina along with her vast entourage and the hill has been a Chinese-dominated area ever since. Later on, the two adjoining hills became the burial ground for Chinese merchants.