Penang or specifically Georgetown was awarded and listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site on 7th July 2008, this historic city has a lot to offer other than its beautiful beaches and amazing food. There are a number of places with rich culture and heritage value to explore.
So if you are in Penang, one of the must visit place is the Pinang Peranakan Mansion.
Located within the Georgetown heritage core zone at 29 Church Street, tucked in between rows of shop houses is a green building called Hai Kee Chan or presently known as Pinang Peranakan Mansion.
The name ‘Peranakan’ refers to the Baba Nyonya community which is unique to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. They are of ethnic Chinese but hugely influenced by the Malay’s culture and language. It is believed their ancestors came from mainland China to the Malay Archipelago between the 15th and 17th century.
The mansion was built in the late 19th century by Chung Keng Kwee. A wealthy merchant and also a Hakka triad leader at that time. The mansion consists of 2 main buildings. One was his residential cum office and next to it is a temple built exclusively for himself. Although Chung Keng Kwee was not a Baba himself, the mansion was typically like a big Baba house with rich architectural design worthy of his position as one of the illustrious Chinese Kapitan in the history of Penang.
Chung Keng Kwee died in Penang in 1898, leaving nine sons and vast wealth.
Decades have passed and the mansion survived despite being neglected. Today the mansion is owned by a property developer. Fortunately, the new owner rehabilitated and recreate the mansion, offering a glimpse of the rich lifestyle of Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee.
The Hai Kee Chan mansion has two floors and divided into several wings. Upon entering the house is a grand courtyard, a common feature for most prewar houses.
At a glance, we could see the east and west influence towards the interior decor. The floor tiles was English. The staircase handrail iron was from Glasgow, Scotland. The carving on the wooden panel was Chinese and many of the porcelain was imported from all around Europe.
The wing facing the road was normally used for gatherings. A smaller room was regularly used by the ladies to enjoy a game of cards or chewing of betel nuts. Then there is the huge formal dining hall with a long grand dining table usually used to entertain European guests. At the back of the house is the kitchen.
The upper floor consists of the family living hall, bedrooms, a sewing room as well as a traditional bridal room. In this room you can find a typical Nyonya matrimonial bed and some antique head accessories and clothings.
The historic temple is a facinating building on its own. Presently, there is a life-sized bronze statue of the late Kapitan. Today the temple is still visited by Chung Keng Kwee’s decendents for their ancestral prayers.
Did you know there are 2 streets named after Chung Keng Kwee? One is Ah Quee Street and the other is Keng Kwee Street. Both are located within the heritage area of Georgetown. Do look for it next time you are in Penang.
PENANG PERANAKAN MANSION