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Into the details of Khoo Kongsi, Penang

Into the details of Khoo Kongsi, Penang

January 2020 · 4 min read · George Town

The most ornate, the most detailed, elaborate and well-known clan house in Penang, and Malaysia... and even touted as the most majestic in South-East Asia ~ is the Khoo Kongsi!

Am I over-stating it or biased just because I happen to share the same family name?

No, not at all!

Before clan houses were even boasted about or known by others, there was always the Khoo Kongsi. Locals and foreigners alike were always making their way to it as a must-visit site as far as I can remember, even while I was growing up!

It was only recently, after Penang was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 that the other clan houses have become places of interest to the tourism trade.

'Clan house' it may be called, but the Khoo Kongsi is actually a cluster of buildings built around Cannon Square surrounding the majestic temple that is the pièce de résistance!

There supposedly are rows of 19th century houses for families of the clan, an association building, a traditional Chinese opera stage which sits right opposite the temple itself, and are both situated within a stone paved square.

You make your way through narrow winding lanes between rows of old pre-war shop houses, some which have been very nicely restored... and right when you think you're totally lost and may never find your way out again, you come to the arched doorway signage that proclaims... you have found it!

The Khoo Kongsi

Exquisite detail of its roof
I remember reading that craftsmen from China were brought in to work on the details ~ ornate wood and stone cravings fill both inside and outside of the temple

Filigree gold designs, delicate paintings, huge traditional lanterns and detailed wood carvings cover most of the ceiling of the Prayer Pavilion
The temple was built in 1851, burnt down in 1901
rebuilding started in 1902 and the current building was completed in 1906

Side view of the entrance and centre grand staircase

Capturing the details...
I wonder if there are stories to be told in these pictures and scenes painted high in the eaves... and if there is anyone who knows them all...

Zooming in close-r
A golden dragon lies curled up high...
In fact, you see dragons everywhere here, afterall it is also known as the Leong San Tong (literally meaning Dragon Mountain Hall) Khoo Kongsi

I think these beams or trusses are some of my most favourite parts of the temple!
Beautifully adorned with paintings of mainly flowers and plants (as far as I could see) each of these beams have their own individual designs, no two are alike!

Even the wrought iron fencing is elaborately decorated!
Believe it or not, custom made and shipped in from England!!
Yes, even in those days...

Stone carvings and delicate designs on panels along the centre grand staircase leading up to the Prayer Pavilion

The Pillars!
Carved in stone
Swirling dragons wrapped around, twisting their bodies round and around... and birds, figurines, celestial clouds, flowers, plants... feature in these masterpieces!!

Carved stone panels
Superior stone was brought in from the Fujian Province for these

Not just the panels...
Even the 'framework' and borders surrounding them

A shot just outside the main halls...
See the pillars and massive wall panels

Closing in on a decorated wall

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Look out of the balustrades
and you see the richly decorated rooftops

Zooming out to give you a better idea of where you're 'standing'

I went a little crazy on the number of shots taken!
Here, I stop for today, and will carry on with the inside on my next post
Also, when walking in before the courtyard, we also caught many of the outer buildings which are not without merit of their own
More of these, on my next post!

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Captured with SONY A5100 | © image & text original content | click image for fullscreen view

My recent visit to Penang was an eye-opener as well as a re-visiting of familiar places. Previous posts on my visit:
1 - 'A many faceted Pearl' ~ Introduction post
2 - 'Caturday is alive and well in Penang!'
3 - 'It's the gold that brought me here...!!!'
4 - 'The Crossing (aka The Arrival)'
5 - ' How much is that kitty in the window...? '
6 - 'Clan jetties at dusk' ~ a monochrome introduction
7 - 'Out on the jetties...'

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