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Penang Peranakan Mansion, George Town

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion at Church Street, George Town was featured in a number of television series.

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion at Church Street within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site is a museum depicting Peranakan culture. The unique green Straits Eclectic-style mansion is among the most beautiful of its kind in George Town.

The mansion itself was actually named Hai Kee Chan (Sea Remembrance Hall in Penang Hokkien) and served as the residence of Chung Keng Kwee, the richest man in Penang in the late 19th. century and among the more famous Kapitan Cina (leader of the Chinese community) in British Malaya. Ironically, Kapitan Chung was not of Peranakan ancestry; he was of a purely Chinese ancestry and therefore was one of the recent immigrants from China at the time.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion, George Town, Penang

The former Hai Kee Chan is now a museum featuring thousands of Peranakan antiques.

After decades of neglect, the mansion was only recently restored to its former glory by its new owner, who turned it into a museum showcasing Peranakan antiques. The mansion was also featured in The Amazing Race (season 16), The Amazing Race Asia (season 4) and the Singaporean drama series, The Little Nyonya.

History

Chung Keng Kwee

Chung Keng Kwee, the richest man on Penang Island in the late 19th. century and a respected Kapitan Cina in the neighbouring Sultanate of Perak.

Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee was the richest man on Penang Island in the late 19th. century and the Kapitan Cina of the neighbouring Sultanate of Perak who founded the town of Taiping, 100km southeast of Penang Island. A millionaire philanthropist and an innovator in the mining of tin, he was also the leader of the Hai San, a Chinese secret society. In addition, he was awarded the title of 'Mandarin of Second Rank' by the Qing government of China for his great generosity in his native Qing China.

In 1893, he acquired two adjacent properties at Church Street - the former headquarters of Ghee Hin, a rival Chinese secret society and a Chinese school. Chung compensated the school with a plot of land at Chulia Street.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion courtyard, George Town, Penang

A courtyard in the Pinang Peranakan Mansion

On the former Ghee Hin headquarters, Chung built a residence-cum-office named Hai Kee Chan - which is now the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. The Straits Eclectic-style mansion was uniquely laid out, with a five foot way along the facade and a number of large courtyards. Like Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, the interior features a hybrid of Chinese and European design, with an eclectic mix of English-made tiles, Scottish iron artworks and numerous other European furnishings. In fact, it was from here that Cheong Fatt Tze later acquired some of the interior fittings, such as the Victorian cast iron columns made in Glasgow, for his blue mansion.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion temple, George Town, Penang

The interior of Chung Keng Kwee Temple

On the former school, Chung built a private temple in honour of himself, which also served as an ancestral hall and a family school. Inside the Chung Keng Kwee Temple stands a life-sized statue of the late Kapitan dressed in a Mandarin robe of the Second Rank and a Manchu cap. Behind the temple, in a secluded courtyard accessible only via a narrow eastern path, is a well where the Ghee Hin disposed of its enemies.

Chung passed away in 1898, leaving behind a personal fortune of US$10 million and properties in George Town, Perak and Hong Kong. To this day, it has been rumoured that his spirit still haunts his mansion, with a number of sightings and unexplained noises.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion tiffin, George Town, Penang

These Peranakan-style tiffin carriers are among the thousands of Peranakan antiques on display inside the Pinang Peranakan Mansion.

The mansion stood forgotten towards the end of the 20th. century. A property developer subsequently bought the mansion from Chung's descendants and began meticulously restoring it to its former glory. The house was also repainted green; it was originally white in colour. It now serves as the foremost Peranakan museum on Penang Island, with over 1,000 Peranakan antiques and furniture bringing visitors back in time to the glorious days of the Peranakans.

Appearances in Media

  • The Little Nyonya
    • Genre : Historical period drama
    • Country of Origin : Singapore
    • Year : 2008
Pinang Peranakan Mansion bridal room, George Town, Penang

A bridal chamber inside the Pinang Peranakan Mansion

The Little Nyonya, produced by Singapore's Mediacorp Pte. Ltd., was a drama series about the trials and tribulations of an extended Peranakan family spanning several generations to the present day. Other than the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, which was depicted as the home of one of the protagonist's families, the series was also filmed in Malacca and Ipoh, Perak.

It was among the most successful Singaporean drama series, winning several awards in Singapore, and was broadcast in several countries around the world, such as Malaysia, China, France and the United States.

  • The Amazing Race
    • Season : 16
    • Year : 2010
    • Leg : 8/12

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion was used as the Pit Stop of the eighth leg of the race, in which pairs of contestants travelled from Seychelles to Penang Island and had to complete several tasks all over Penang Island before finishing inside the Peranakan Mansion.

The mansion was also the starting point for the ninth leg of the race, in which contestants had to travel from George Town to Singapore for the next round of challenges.

  • The Amazing Race Asia
    • Season : 4
    • Year : 2010
    • Leg : 1/11

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion was also one of the stops of the first leg of the race, in which contestants take on challenges in both Kuala Lumpur and George Town.

Travel Advice

*All prices are quoted in Malaysian Ringgit (RM).

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is open daily between 0930 hours and 1700 hours.

Complimentary guided tours are only available with prior arrangements for a group of 5. Discounts are also available for large groups, such as school groups. Therefore, it is advisable to contact the museum for guided tour arrangements prior to entering the mansion.

Telephone : +60 4-2642929

Admission fees are as follows.

Adults : RM20

Children : Free

Bear in mind that photography is prohibited within the museum.

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
  2. http://www.pinangperanakanmansion.com.my/
  3. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/hai-kee-chan.htm
  4. http://www.visitpenang.gov.my/portal3/what-to-see/attractions/pinang-peranakan-mansion.html
  5. http://www.cbs.com/shows/amazing_race/episodes/41209/

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