Elephant No. 19: Georgetown, Malaysia 

 

I found this magnificent elephant in the Khoo Kongsi clanhouse in Georgetown on the island of Penang, an incredibly elaborate temple of ancestral worship built by some of the Chinese community in Penang. Modern Malaysia has many citizens of Chinese ethnicity who emigrated from Southern China in various periods: the Khoo clan mostly arrived in the 19th century and were some of the most successful Chinese in the area, hence the amount of money they were able to spend on this very ornate temple! The elephant and its rider is one of 36 “Celestial Guardians” painted on the inside of the central hall, 18 on each side. Each guardian rides an impressive steed like an elephant, a lion, or a dragon, and each has its own unique weapon. All, like this one, look pretty fierce. 

We passed through Georgetown twice, and I would love to go back again at some point, as it’s a beautifully historic city, with many fascinating places to visit like this clanhouse. Unfortunately the first time we were there it was full of haze, and the second time I only had a few hours to squeeze in as much as possible before catching the overnight bus down to Singapore…

Khoo Kongsi clanhouse

 

 

Celestial Guardians

 

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