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The Blue Mansion in George Town – A Feng Shui Analysis.

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A night image of the Blue Mansion in George Town, Penang. Note the stained glass windows and the fine ceramic friezes on the upper floor.

A night image of the Blue Mansion. Note the stained glass windows and the fine ceramic friezes on the upper floor.

 

The Blue Mansion is a Jewel in the crown of George Town in Penang, Malaysia. George Town was awarded an UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 as this historic city is a living museum of the heritage from the 18th Century. It has preserved the influences from both the Eastern and Western Cultures.

The Blue Mansion was built by the Chinese entrepreneur Cheong Fatt Tze at the end of the 19th Century. It is also known as the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. The house was designed with influences from South China, Penang and Europe. This includes the Chinese architecture incorporating the internal courtyard, Chinese building materials, intricate Chinese wood carvings and the exquisite Chinese ceramic friezes. The mansion has western influences like the cast iron balusters from Glasgow (UK), floor tiles from Stoke on Trent (England), russet brick walls, Gothic louvre windows and stained glass windows amongst others.

 

The Blue Mansion. Note the louvre windows and ceramic friezes on the wall.

The Blue Mansion in George Town, Penang. Note the louvre windows and ceramic friezes on the wall.

 

An interior view of the Blue Mansion in Goerge Town, Penang. Note the ornate cast iron baluster with the intricate Chinese wooden motifs in the background.

An interior view. Note the ornate cast iron baluster with the intricate Chinese wooden motifs in the background.

 

The intricate motifs on the screen panels in the interiors of the Blue Mansion.

The intricate motifs on the screen panels in the interiors.

 

An example of the many fine ceramic friezes placed around the Blue Mansion in George Town, Penang.

An example of the many fine ceramic friezes placed around the Blue Mansion.

 

Cheong Fatt Tze was an extraordinary entrepreneur who not only had businesses in China and South East Asia but Europe and the USA. He not only traded in the commodities like pepper, rubber, tea, tobacco but understood the global nature of international trade. He negotiated the start of various international businesses like the Sino American Bank in 1915, a steamship line between China and the US and the Chang Yu Winery. This Winery is one of the largest and most successful in modern day China.

The Blue Mansion was one of several mansions he had built in this region for his family of 8 wives. However, after his death in 1916, the mansion was not maintained to the expected standards and it fell into ruin. A century later, it was restored immaculately to its former glory by Lawrence Loh, an architect with a passion for conservation. This work was awarded a UNESCO Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2000.

The restored mansion is now an 18-bedroom heritage hotel and a Chinese restaurant. Daily conducted tours are available for guests of the hotel and the public to admire this grand residence.

 

Feng Shui Analysis of the Blue Mansion or the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

The Blue Mansion was built for one of the wealthiest business tycoons in South East Asia. It would be logical that the property would have been designed with the assistance of the best feng shui masters from China. The top echelon of feng shui masters that I know, do consultation for their clients with subtlety and utmost discretion to protect their clients’ confidentiality. However, we can look at it using forensic methods for confirmation.

I would like to make some comments based on the principles of traditional feng shui. This was the feng shui practised during the Qing Dynasty (18th and 19th Century) in China. There is far more emphasis of the landform and energy flow than the modern practice of using formulae involving the compass directions.

 

An aerial view of Leith Street. The Blue Mansion and other buildings around do not line up with the Street. They are tilted but are parallel to each other.

An aerial view of Leith Street. The Blue Mansion and other buildings around do not line up with the Street. They are tilted but are parallel to each other.

 

“The property does not line up with Leith Street”. This has puzzled a number of people. One explanation I heard that it was to align the house with Cheong Fatt Tze’s natal chart life direction.

Life Direction comes from the “Eight House formula”. Based on your date of birth, a person is either East House or West House. The 4 favourable compass directions for East House people are East, South East, North and South, which are unfavourable to West House people. Conversely, the favourable compass directions for West House people are West, North East, North West and South West, which are unfavourable to East House People.

The Blue Mansion faces the South East direction. This direction is one of 4 favourable directions for people born to the East House. Cheong Fatt Tze was born in 1840 and therefore belongs to the West House. The South East direction is not one of his favourable directions. This hypothesis is therefore not valid.

I would like to propose a very different reason. Leith Road is along the compass direction of 68o of North. Should a property follow the road, it would face 158o. These 2 compass directions are on a “void line” meaning that the property will be inauspicious.

So, the Blue Mansion is then tilted to face a different direction, in this case, 135o degrees namely the South-East direction. The building across the street and parallel to the Blue Mansion was built as servant’s quarters. As I understand, the other western style bungalows further down Leith Street were built at the same time as the Blue Mansion and also have the same facing direction.

 

It is the Chinese practice for the servant’s quarters to be built behind the property. In this case, it is very unusual for the servants’ quarters to be built directly in front of the Mansion. At the turn of the 20th Century, Leith Street was by the sea. The purpose of this building is to collimate the flow of the energy moving down the Street.

Feng Shui is about the movement of energy. The energy ideally should flow in a slow and smooth manner. A building directly across the street in a parallel position would balance this flow of energy.

 

“Water accumulating in the well in the courtyard of the property is good feng shui”.

Water is important in feng shui. It is the movement of water that carries the energy. Therefore, the incoming flow of water will bring the energy while the outflow of water will carry the energy away.

 

The Central Courtyard that doubles up as a well to trap rainwater.

The Central Courtyard that doubles up as a well to trap rainwater.

 

I spoke to the staff in the mansion about the well and they do not recall water ever settling  in the courtyard. After a burst of heavy rain, at most a puddle would accumulate as the water flows away easily. There is no significant movement of water.

There is no need to go further into this comment.

 

“An electric lamp is directly in front of the main door. Is this a poison arrow?“

It is small and unlikely to be a significant poison arrow. Electricity was newly introduced to Penang at the start of the 20th Century. Could be a status symbol or for the safety of the people walking along Leith Street?

 

The entrance of the Blue Mansion with the lantern suspended above the doorway. In the back ground is the building of the former servant’s quarters and in between, is the lamp post with electric lamp. The floor is paved with western tiles.

The entrance of the Blue Mansion with the lantern suspended above the doorway. In the back ground is the building of the former servant’s quarters and in between, is the lamp post with electric lamp. The floor is paved with western tiles.

 

“Why is the mansion painted blue?”  The feng shui answer is straight forward. The mansion faces South East and the element for that direction is wood. The element for the blue colour is water. Based on the productive cycle of the five elements, water feeds wood and enhances growth. Blue is the preferred colour for property that faces the South East direction.

 

The Blue Mansion in George Town, Penang, at night.

The Blue Mansion at night.

 

The most important feng shui feature is the positioning of the property. The mansion is set back from the street and tilted to face the direction of 135o or in the South East Direction. The back of the mansion is North West. The North West sector is for the patriarch and luck for creating more money. This is “so feng shui”. There are other feng shui characteristics like the back being higher than the front, the positions of entrances etc.

 

The hotel section of the Blue Mansion in George Town, Penang.

The hotel section of the Blue Mansion.

 

The Blue Mansion has been sympathetically restored to its former glory by specialist artisans from China to re-create the fine ceramic motifs on the roof and various parts of the building. The restoration work concentrated on the architectural aspects, which include the ceramic friezes, Chinese wood carvings and artworks, stained glass panels, English floor tiles and Scottish cast iron balusters.

The Blue Mansion is well worth a tour to view the restored building and the fine fittings. Many people have asked me what it is like to be in a building that has been designed with feng shui from inception rather than one where feng shui has been implemented as an afterthought. This is your opportunity to experience it in this heritage hotel.

 

Further details of the Blue Mansion,

 

The Blue Mansion is a UNESCO Heritage Award Winner.

George Town, Penang is listed as a UNE£SCO World Heritage Site.

 

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