Friday, August 19, 2011

We Need to Talk About Armenian Street

Armenian Street. I like the sound of that and I was there a few weeks ago with a friend. We were hanging out at the cozy Amelie Cafe after a long tour at a Hokkien clan association called the Cheah Kongsi. I've also shared some pictures of the place.

On Armenian Street and there were other tourists checking it out too.

I looked up Armenian Street from Khoo Su Nin's Streets of Georgetown Penang and found some interesting facts about it.
  • Armenian Street was once called Malay Lane and by 1808, changed to Armenian Lane.
  • A prominent Armenian clan was the family of Arratoon Anthony, after whom Arratoon Road is named.
  • The most famous Armenians were the Sarkies brothers who made their mark as hoteliers of the Eastern & Oriental (E&O) in Penang and of the Raffles in Singapore.
  • The five great Hokkien clans (Goh Tai Seng) namely the Cheah, the Khoo, the Yeoh, the Tan, and the Lim were led by prominent Straits Chinese.
  • The Hokkien-dominated secret society called Khian Teik set up its base at the Tua Pek Kong Temple, allying with the Red Flag society whose two chiefs were Syed Mohamed Alatas and Che Long.
  • Armenian Street was one of the scenes of fighting when the Khian Teik-Red Flag alliance fought with the Ghee Hin-White Flag alliance during the 1867 Penang Riot. The European volunteer police and their sepoys had to erect stockades, and the entire town was under siege for ten days.
  • The secret societies were finally suppresed in 1890. The Khian Teik had asserted their control allowing the Hokkien traders to emerge as dominant force in Penang.
I can't wait to go around the streets of Penang for more stories. Stay tuned!