The Cheong Fatt Tze mansion in George Town, Penang Island is truly an attention seeker – with its colourful porcelain shard work and brilliant indigo blue walls, which earned it the moniker – the ‘Blue Mansion’.
Featured in prestigious travel magazines, TV series, popular movies like ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and even on London buses, this mansion features traditional Chinese architecture and craftsmanship that dates back 3,000 years to the Chow Dynasty.
Built in the late 19th century, it incorporates Feng Shui elements that took into account the positioning of the property, and ‘gua’ (energy field) of the occupants.
Named after prominent merchant and businessman Cheong Fatt Tze who built the mansion in the late 1880s, the 38- room, 7-staircase, 5-courtyard mansion, was a hub of activity during its heyday.
In its prime, the mansion included stables at the back of the property and a row of five traditional Chinese terrace houses across the road which housed the help, handmaidens and concubines.
Cheong who was known as the ‘Rockefeller of the East’ was conferred with titles such as the Consular-Generalship of China and Mandarin of the highest order.
The Blue Mansion thus functioned as his commercial enterprise and the Chinese Vice-Consulate office, in addition to being the home of Cheong’s favoured 7th wife and children.
Cheong’s influence and prominence in the region were underscored by the fact that British and Dutch officials ordered flags to be flown at half-mast when Cheong passed-on in 1916 at the age of 76.
As the story goes Cheong’s fortune and luck did not seem to trickle down to his descendants who had different ‘guas’ not suited to the mansion or it’s position.
So when the mansion (which had become dilapidated dilapidated), was put on the market in early 1990, after Cheong’s youngest son from his 7th wife passed away (as per his will), the current owners purchased the building – a move that likely saved it from being lost forever to development – owing to its prime location in George Town.
It took many years and much resources to restore the mansion to its current state.
This property, is in current times a boutique hotel located within the George Town Unesco World Heritage site. This enhances its prestige, boosts its profile and accords it with the recognition and resources to protect and preserve its integrity and authenticity.
During its heyday, the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion stood out from its neighbours on Leith Street as it departed from the popular Anglo-Indian architectural style buildings that was a trend during that period.
Fashioned after Cheong’s ancestral home in Tai’pu, China, and reputed to be the favourite of his many properties in the region including Singapore, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong, the mansion features skilled Chinese artisan work and architectural principles.
Walk through the Blue Mansion with its co-owner Loh-Lim Lin Lee:
The ‘Mahjong’ scene in Crazy Rich Asians was shot in the courtyard of the Blue Mansion: