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Khoo Kongsi, Penang

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

Penang Khoo KongsiKhoo Kongsi, Penang

Located in Cannon Square in the heart of the oldest part of the city of George Town stand one of the grandest and the most distinctive clan houses in Penang, The Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi Clan House.(built for people with the same surname); featuring intricate carvings and richly ornamented beams of finest wood which bears the mark of master craftsmen from China, and red tiled roof decorated with cravings of dragons, phoenixes and other mythical creatures. The Khoo Kongsi complex consists of the clan house, Leong San Tong (which literally means “Dragon Mountain Hall”), an administrative building with a meeting hall and offices, an opera stage and 62 units of terrace houses and shop houses. The building is actually a blend of Southern Fujian and Anglo-Indian architecture.

The Khoo Kongsi is a clan association of the Leong San Tong clan, whose forefathers came from Sin Kang clan village in Hokkien province. The Khoos were among the wealthy Straits Chinese traders of 17th century Malacca and early Penang. In the 19th century, the clan complex resembled a miniature clan village, with its own self-government as well as educational, financial, welfare and social organisations. However it was burnt down in 1894 and some believed it was because of its resemblance to the Emperor’s palace. A reduced version was later built in 1902, and the clan temple was built in 1906 when the Khoo clan was at the height of wealth and eminence in Penang society.

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

Opening Hours: 9.00am to 5.00pm (Mondays to Fridays), 9.00am to 1.00pm (Saturdays)

Location: There are three entrances to the Khoo Kongsi. The main entrance is on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Kling (Lebuh Pitt), in between Armenian Street and Lebuh Aceh. The second entrance is on Lebuh Pantai, also in between Armenian Street and Lebuh Aceh, and the rear entrance with a decorative archway that faces Beach Street

Khoo Kongsi Map
Khoo Kongsi

Tip 1: Visitors are welcome, but permission to enter must be obtained from the Kongsi office. Please note that the Khoo Kongsi is still a place where the name plaques of departed members of Khoo families are kept in honour and remembrance. Due respects and mindfulness in these places of importance are appreciated.

Tip 2: First-time visitors may face some difficulty in locating the Khoo Kongsi as its pivotal building, Leong San Tong, is hidden amidst the crowded gridiron of terrace houses and shop houses. Visitors will need to walk through an alley between two rows of 19th-century terrace houses and pass by the opera stage, before they can see the majestic clan house on the granite square.

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