Some of the most interesting historic attractions in George Town, Malaysia, are the beautiful Chinese clanhouses around the city. The Chinese immigrants who came to Penang in the 18th and 19th centuries developed “Clans” based on where they were from in China. The larger of these clans felt the need to build “Clanhouses” for meetings and gatherings, as well as worshiping their ancestors. Khoo Kongsi is without a doubt the grandest of all of the clan houses in the city, situated in a very old part of George Town.
The Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi clan, as well as its sub-clans, were groups of Chinese immigrants in Penang whose ancestry traces back to a village named Sin Aun in the Hokkien province (now Fujian). There were actually a few Khoo clansman already on the island of Penang before the British arrived in 1786, which most likely came here from other Straights settlements. This makes them some of the very first Chinese immigrants in Penang.
Over the years, the Khoo Kongsi clan grew in numbers reaching over 100. With these large numbers, the clan decided that they needed a Clanhouse for members to gather and worship their ancestors, but it wasn’t until 1850 that they were able to buy a property and convert the building into their Clanhouse.
Several other buildings were built around a central courtyard over the years, making it quite a large complex, and in 1894 the clan decided to demolish the original converted building and build a brand new clan temple in its place, using master craftsmen from their homeland. This amazing temple was then unfortunately destroyed again when a fire broke out on Chinese New Year in 1901, and had to be rebuilt again. It also needed repairs after some bomb damage during World War II, but the building now stands as it was since its last major renovations in 1958 which returned it to its former glory.
Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse is absolutely stunning, the clan temple ornately decorated, and its architecture is just magnificent. It also now stands as a museum that keeps the history of the Khoo Kongsi alive today.
If you visit Penang, do not miss out on visiting Khoo Kongsi Clanhouse. It is a must see in George Town.