Khoo Kongsi

Considered to be the most grandiose and ornate clan house on Penang Island, the Khoo Kongsi clan house in George Town is an architectural splendour. It features tall thin columns supporting a gently sloping, red tiled roof, topped with carvings of dragons, phoenixes, mythical animals and various scenes from popular Chinese legends. The clan house also has a grand hall adorned with resplendent and intricate carvings and richly ornamented pillars which were crafted by master craftsmen from China.

The story of Khoo Kongsi can be traced back in 1851 when the forefathers of the Khoo family who emigrated from south China built a clanhouse for members of the Khoo family. The Khoos were among the wealthy Straits Chinese traders of 17th century Melaka and early Penang. By 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. The clan temple was built in 1906 when the Khoo clan was at the height of wealth and eminence in Penang society. It was burnt down in 1894, allegedly struck by lightning, and the Chinese believed that it was due to its resemblance to the Emperor's palace, which provoked the gods. As the story goes, it wasn't until 1902 that the current clan house was reconstructed. The other Hokkien clan houses in Penang are the Cheah Kongsi, Yeah Kongsi, Lim Kongsi and Tan Kongsi. Interestingly, Khoo Kongsi is also the venue for many Chinese art and cultural performances especially during Chinese New Year and other Chinese festivals and celebrations.

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