August 13, 2003 7:02 AM   Subscribe

The Khoo Kongsi. Images and history of a Chinese clanhouse in Penang, Malaysia.
The 'kongsi' or clanhouses provided a support network for members of the southern Chinese families who migrated to southeast Asia during the 18th century. The Khoo Kongsi is one of the most impressive. Here's an article on the history of the Cheah Kongsi.
More on the heritage of Penang at the Penang Heritage Trust, the Penang Story, and the Penang File.
The history of the Chinese community in Penang; the history of the Indian community in Penang; and Penang's Victorian architecture.
For more news on Malaysia: Malaysiakini, an independent online news service which has been in trouble with the government, is excellent.
posted by plep (8 comments total)
Cool post, plep. I distinctly remember two places when I was in Penang (Georgetown) that I thought were really beautiful, but I can't remember the names of the places -- perhaps you know. The first was a chinese clanhouse with two large (red?) intricately decorated doors. The second was an Indian temple that had all these decorative carvings covering the place. I just loved how the two cultures were able to coexist in such a small place.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:45 AM on August 13, 2003

Civil_Disobedient :- The clanhouse is likely to be the Khoo Kongsi, because it's the largest in Penang, although there are others, and Taoist temples too (kongsi and Taoist temples look alike).

As for the Hindu temple, would that be the one on top of Penang Hill?
posted by plep at 9:07 AM on August 13, 2003

There's also a Thai temple, a Burmese temple and the Kek Lok Si Temple (which is principally Chinese Buddhist but with Burmese and Thai influences). As well as many smaller Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu temples, as well as churches and mosques of different styles...
posted by plep at 9:15 AM on August 13, 2003

I don't know if this counts as a 'self-post' to this thread, but I'm a kind of lapsed member of the Khoo clan/association (I have the name, but am not a member of the society, etc.). Anway, an interesting episode of Penang history in which the Khoos were involved were the Penang riots (see plep's link to the Penang File above). After the riots, the British authorities arrested Khoo Thean Teik for having planned the riots, and sentenced him to death; but they did not have the resources to carry out the sentence, which was commuted to life imprisonment, before he was released after seven years. Thean Teik's country villa is pictured at the bottom of this page.

Also: Penang oral histories [+]; the Muslim community in Penang [+] [+]; the Jewish community in Penang [+]

Finally, Malaysia has one of the major prerequisites that makes any place worth visiting - great food! Everything from indigenous hothothot Indonesian style treats, through Chinese, to Indian tandoori chicken and roti chennai, and others, with many delicious fusions. Oh, and thanks once again, plep.
posted by carter at 10:09 AM on August 13, 2003

As for the Hindu temple, would that be the one on top of Penang Hill?

Yes! That's the one! I love the garish colors and figures on the exterior. Upon googling, I discover that it's called the Sri Mariamman Temple. I'm still not sure about the other temple, however. It could be the Kuan Yin Temple; I think I've exhausted Google, however.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2003

Yes... Sri Mariamman is a manifestation of the Great Goddess of Hinduism. There's a Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore as well.

Carter :- those are great links. What a fascinating story. :)
posted by plep at 10:21 AM on August 13, 2003

Oh, and :- the Kuan Yin Temple, Georgetown. A better picture here.
posted by plep at 10:26 AM on August 13, 2003

Heh; a post about home, at least "home" until I moved to Canada.

Great links, plep.

The chinese half of my family originates from the Haka part of Penang, and although they now live in Kuala Lumpur, they still call Penang home.

Maybe it's just because the food is so damn good there.
posted by dazed_one at 10:37 AM on August 13, 2003

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