Built between 1896 to 1904, teams of master craftsmen from China were hired. The majestic…
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a museum dedicated to Penang's Peranakan heritage. The museum itself is housed within a distinctive green-hued mansion at Church Street, George Town.
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion was the home of the wealthy 19th-century Chinese tycoon, Chung Keng Quee. Today, it is a museum dedicated to the culture of the Peranakans.
We entered the mansion through the main gate and stood in front of the mansion, which was painted in a few different shades of vivid green. There is a fee we paid to get in and we were lucky enough to join a tour of the mansion just as it was starting, which meant we got a great insight into who the Peranakans were.
Peranakans, also known as the Babas and Nyonyas, were a prominent community of acculturated Chinese unique to this part of the world, especially in the Straits Settlements (Penang, Malacca and Singapore) hence its other name, the Straits Chinese. Adopting selected ways of the local Malays and later, the colonial British, the Peranakans had created a unique lifestyle and customs which had not only left behind a rich legacy of antiques but its cultural influences like cuisine and language are still evident in Penang today.
Our tour started in the main courtyard which is a common feature in these Chinese mansions. The courtyard was decorated for the Chinese New Year and had beautiful floor tiles, dark wood furniture, carved wall panels and a grand staircase with lovely gold embossed spindles. From the courtyard, we moved to visit some of the rooms of the mansion. At the mansion, several rooms have been laid out as they would have been in the typical home of a rich Baba a century ago, offering a glimpse of their opulent lifestyle and their many customs and traditions.
I thought the tour was over now, but no we were ushered through a short corridor into some backrooms of the mansion. I wasn’t quite sure what we’d find, an opium den? Or a gambling room full of men smoking and playing high-stakes mahjong? No, we were moving from the renovated mansion rooms, we moved into the Baba-Nyonya museum galleries. The museum’s website claims there are over 1,000 pieces of antiques and collectables of the era on display, but it felt a lot more than that. The first room we entered had collections of pottery, including an interesting array of Chinese spoons, laid out like a roulette wheel. There were also half a dozen golf bags containing some very old-looking clubs. The second room was dedicated to shoes and clothing. The shoes were amazing, many had been decorated with the tiniest of glass beads. Among the shoes were some slippers that were tiny. These had been made for ladies who had been subjected to footbinding. Footbinding was the cruel Chinese custom of breaking and tightly binding the feet of young girls in order to change their shape and size. Feet altered by footbinding were known as lotus feet, and the shoes made for these feet were known as lotus shoes. These girls, all from privileged families, were disabled for life from footbinding. Luckily, this practice is now banned. The final room was dedicated to jewellery, ranging from gauche gold chains to the most exquisite necklace decorated with the feathers of kingfishers.
We were not quite done, before leaving the mansion our guide suggest we headed upstairs where there were more rooms that had been decorated in the style of a rich Baba. These were the sleeping quarters, with beautifully carved wooden furniture, plush furnishings and one stunning bed covered in brightly coloured fabrics.
Planning your visit to Pinang Peranakan Mansion
|Address:||29, Church St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia|
|Telephone:||+60 4-264 2929|
|Hours:||Monday to Sunday including Public Holidays from 9:30 am to 5 pm|
The best time to visit George Town
The climate of George Town
Throughout the year, the city is marked by high temperatures, consistently ranging from a minimum of 23.8°C to a soaring 31.6°C. Each month, there are limited fluctuations in such thermal readings, as the lowest temperature seldom falls below 23.8°C while the upper temperature rarely surpasses 31.6°C. Correspondingly, relative humidity remains comparably high throughout the year, primarily within 76% to 81%, thus contributing to the overall sensation of warmth.
Rainfall in George Town varies from month to month, judging by the parameters provided. The range dips to a low of 65mm, and climbs a high of 193mm, marking December as the month with the heaviest rain showers. Correspondingly, the number of rainfall days has a similar trend, with a peak in November and December, where rain is expected for more than 28 days.
Observing the number of sunshine hours, they fluctuate narrowly from a modest 7.6 hours in November to a bright 9.3 hours in February, reflecting the region’s tropical nature. In conjunction with daylight hours, they remain quite constant throughout the year, hovering approximately around 12 hours daily.
The best time to visit George Town
Other places to visit while in Penang
1. KHOO KONGSI
Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, or Khoo Kongsi for short, is one of the most distinctive Chinese clan associations in Malaysia. It is known for its extensive lineage that can be traced back 650 years ago, as well as its closely-knit and defensive congregation of buildings and a magnificent clanhouse.
2. CHEONG FATT TZE (THE BLUE MANSIONw
Built between 1896 to 1904, teams of master craftsmen from China were hired. The majestic blue house was built with 38 rooms and 5 courtyards. At that time, 3 of his wives occupied the Blue Mansion. The Blue Mansion (otherwise known as Cheong Fatt Tze’s Mansion) was large enough to accommodate his extended family.
3. GEORGE TOWN STREET ART
George Town’s street art scene boomed in 2012. That year Ernest Zacharevicm, a Lithuanian artist, created 6 wall paintings during the celebration of the annual George Town festival. These murals soon achieved worldwide fame.
4. GEORGE TOWN – CHEW JETTY
Chew Jetty was one of 5 wooden jetties constructed in 1888 as part of a development project on the quayside in George Town. 2 other wooden jetties were built in the same area in the 1960s. One jetty burnt down so only five remain.
Where to stay in Penang
1. MID-RANGE – NOORDIN MEWS
2. LUXURY – EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL
The Eastern & Oriental Hotel – known simply as the ‘E&O’ to generations of travellers – exudes a charm that is inimitably its own. For most of its history, its passageways and halls were the preserve of the rich and privileged from the Western world – intrepid travellers that included acclaimed writers and aspiring literati who arrived in steamships seeking to experience the exotic East. Even with the passage of time, this unique pearl at the heart of George Town continues to shine as a testament to the grand elegance of the British colonial era, the embodiment of both a special time and a special place. Indeed, at the E&O, life’s true pleasures never go out of fashion. For over 138 years, the hotel has welcomed the world in timeless style. This legacy is conserved and further elevated with the re-opening of the Heritage Wing that is now setting the new standard as a leading destination in classic hospitality.
3. BUDGET – SWING & PILLOWS @ BEACH STREET
Swing & Pillows @ Beach Street is located in George Town, within 1.5 miles of Northam Beach and a 17-minute walk of Penang Times Square. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Straits Quay is 5.1 miles from the hostel and Penang Botanic Gardens is 5.3 miles away.
All guest rooms at the hostel feature air conditioning and a desk.