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Cheah Kongsi, Penang

Posted by on Jun 6th, 2007
Filed Under: Penang, Sights

Penang Cheah Kongsi

Cheah Kongsi, Penang

Completed in 1873, The Cheah Kongsi was the first of the five great Hokkien clans to be established in Penang. Unlike the other clan houses, the Cheah Kongsi clan house is an impressive building fusing Malay, Chinese and European influences in traditional Straits Chinese fashion and the façade resembles the great temples and palaces in China.

Architecturally, the double-storey Cheah Kongsi differs from the regular temple, as the temple is on the upper storey that is supported by heavy foundation pillars. The sweeping roof of this double storey porch bungalow is decorated with stylized sculptures of sirens, dogs, lions of stucco and shards of both Chinese and Dutch porcelain crockery. The temple porch was renovated in the 1930s with the addition of British lion heads.

Cheah Kongsi

The Cheah Kongsi has a charming front lawn and serene distinctly courtyards. The mid-19th century temple building uniquely integrates the double storey porch bungalow plan with a distinctive Chinese courtyard building layout. The worship hall proper is located on the upper floor and whilst the clan’s office building is located within the compounds of the clan house.

The Cheahs who originate from Sek Tong village in South China Sea are members of the Cheah association founded in 1820 by Penang’s pioneer settler Cheah Yam. Upon his death, his widow Ong Sin Neoh took charge. She created a trust body and laid down the rules, thus becoming the only woman ever wield such direct influence over a local Hokkien clan association.

Cheah Kongsi courtyard temple has also been partly converted into a museum to recapture the clan’s 183-year-old history. Several pieces of original furniture and artifacts that have been saved from the ravages of time and war are on display in thematic fashion in the temple’s various chambers. Entrance is free.

Tip: Visitors are welcome, but permission to enter must be obtained from the Kongsi office.

Other major Hokkien clan houses that can be found in Penang are the Yap Kongsi, Khoo Kongsi, Lim Kongsi and Tan Kongsi.

Location: Armenian Street, George Town

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