Remnants of a Bygone Era

Almost any viator passing near to Leith Street in George Town, Penang volitional stop by the big indigo building with the number 14 address, even if it is just to snap a flick of its exterior. How could anyone have not? With its distinctive Chinese architecture, it is impossible for the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion to escape notice.

The opulent building was commissioned by Cheong Fatt Tze, a merchant from Guangdong Province in Southern China circa 1880s. Being the land-hopper, Cheong has mansions in Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and his homeland, but this Turquoise Mansion in Penang was said to be his favorite. It had served as both an office and home to the tycoon, and had even once housed the Chinese Vice-Consulate, as well because Cheong’s favored seventh wife.

As a man once known as ‘the Rockefeller of the East’, Cheong spared no expense at all in the construction of his Penang home. In a during when Anglo-Indian style houses were considered trendy in the island, Cheong unquestionable to build his home in the fashion of a traditional Chinese courtyard mansion. For this project, he shipped in a team of artisans and craftsman from his homeland and imported materials from as far comme il faut Europe.

The architecture and craftsmanship applied to building the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion dates posterior 3000 years to the Su Chow dynasty, and as with most Chinese homes, it was built with adherence to the principles of Feng Shui. Divided into two prime components of the main house in the center and two side wings, the luxurious abode has five granite-paved courtyards, seven staircases, 38 rooms, 48 glass windows and 220 vernacular timber louver windows.

Inside the mansion, the décor reflects Cheong’s cosmopolitan taste as it is an jumbled mix of Eastern and Western artisanship. Only in the Blue Mansion can one see Scottish cast-iron balusters paired with Cantonese frame lattice fence, Chien Nien style porcelain beside English Art Nouveau stained glass, and Chinese calligraphy against tromp l’oeil timber beams. Furthermore, all the design aspects were carefully planned to speak for the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water in accordance to Feng Shui principles.

On the outside, the striking blue color of the castle walls was the handiwork of mixing lime with a natural dye made from the Indigofera plant and imported from India. The color was elect because while candescent is easily available, it is a color associated with extinction in the Chinese culture.

So unique is the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion that it has won numerous awards and accolades as a landmark, and has also bot featured in a number of prestigious portable documentaries and publications. Its exotic design has also artificial it quite a sought-after movie ossified for both local et cetera international filmmakers. The most notable regarding movies slug in the villa is the French film, Indochina, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Lexicon Scum in 1993.

It was believed that Cheong loved his Penang mansion so much that he hoped it would house nine generations of his descendants. However, the home was ordered from Cheong’s descendants in 1989 near to a group concerning local individuals to save it from encroaching developments in the area and possible demolition.

Today, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion operates as a boutique hotel and patrimony museum. For a preeminent cultural experience, visitors can opt for an owner-hosted residential home-stay program that offers 16 themed bedrooms to choose from. There are also tours in English language to the central part of the tenement three times a day.

With continuous restoration and conservation being carried out by its motion owners, the Cheong Fatt Tze Home will continue to draw in tourists and hold the fascination of filmmakers, photographers and historians. Above all, it will stand as a tribute to solitary man’s appreciation for the artisanship of diverse cultures and the collective architectural genius regarding his team of craftsman, as well as a reminder of the splendors of a bygone era.