Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion: The Story


Legendary in the annals of the history of Penang is the awe-inspiring Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Leith Street. Dubbed "La Maison Bleu", this flamboyant masterpiece of 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 windows took a very special man to create. Arriving penniless from Guandong province, China, to this part of the world at the age of 16, Cheong Fatt Tze grew to become one of the most historic and colorful personalities of the era. "One of China's last Mandarins and 1st Capitalists", such was his aura and fame that Dutch and British authorities ordered that flags be flown at half mast throughout their colonies when he passed away in 1916.

Of his vast empire, Cheong Fatt Tze chose Penang to build the most elaborate of his homes and to raise his sons. It is reputed to be the only one of two such buildings of this size, outside China and certainly most perfected. While the Mansion's floor-plan is essentially Chinese, the overall effect is eclectic and typical of 19th Century Straits Settlements architecture. Gothic louvered windows, Chinese cut-and-paste porcelain work, Stoke-on-Trent floor tiles, Scottish cast iron works and Art Nouveau stain glass are among the features to be found in this inspired work of art. The aura and "chi" of the man pervades the entire edifice.

The above is an excerpt from the lovely bookmark handed out when entry tickets were purchased. The tickets cost MYR12 or approximately US$4 each.

I had a wonderful time exploring the Mansion with Chong last Wednesday. The guided tour was informative and the guide was a great storyteller. She told the story of how Mr Cheong established his presence in Penang and the eight wives he married, of which only the picture of the seventh wife is available. I had to keep reminding myself to not let my jaws hang loose because I was awed by the place. The high ceilings have beautiful peony motives and I almost jumped in excitement. I love, love, love peonies. Everything was well laid out and feng shui elements very strong. A fluffy cat even strutted around and came to say hello to everyone of us by "greeting" us personally. I love that furry fellow.

Click here for more in a post by Ah Yang the Sheep. Coming up for Wordless Wednesday are the pictures of lotuses in the courtyard or garden. They're gorgeous!

P/S: The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is now also a heritage boutique hotel. For enquiries, call +604 262 0006 or e-mail cftm@tm.net.my or visit their website at www.cheongfatttzemansion.com. They are located at 14 Leith Street, 10200 Penang, MALAYSIA.

Related Post: The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, in which Ah Yang the Little Sheep Blogs...