Khoo Kongsi Is Cool

When I was in Penang, I dropped by and visited the Khoo Kongsi clanhouse temple.

The concept of ‘clanhouses’ used to be quite important popular in the olden days. When Chinese people migrated from China to the then Malaya, they banded together loosely and form kongsi’s, or clans. A clanhouse is basically was where a bunch of people with the same surnames get together and talk about how cool it is to be related to one another.

Things used to be a little a lot better back then. In the past, clanhouses developed their own self-government system and handled important social and welfare duties for the good of their members.
Clanhouses still exist today. But nowadays, all they seem to do is organise boring dinner functions and sing karaokes.

The Khoo Kongsi clanhouse temple is one of the most intense and ornately decorated buildings I have witnessed in Malaysia. Walking through the ancient halls looking at the intricate carvings was a surreal experience. A lot of credit goes to the trustees of the board, one of whom is, interestingly, called “Kay Por”.

There’s more evidence of how different things were back then in the Khoo Kongsi’s “Hall of Fame”.
Last time, having someone in the family graduated from University was such a big deal. If your surname is Khoo and you graduated from college with a diploma, you get a huge ass banner to show off your achievements, proudly displayed in the Khoo Kongsi’s Hall of Fame.

But these days, every other person and their pet cat has a qualification from college. It’s so easy now to get a degree that if you want, you could even buy one over the Internet. So the Khoo Kongsi stopped putting up huge ass banners, and all they have is a long list where every graduate’s names goes in.
Perhaps the most amusing part of the Khoo Kongsi clanhouse temple is found at the front of the building.

I understand that the front of the temple is made to look like a ancient Chinese courthouse, complete with placards and weapons and all.
What I don’t understand is, what exactly is this weapon used for?

My guess is that a long time ago, a teenage boy from the Khoo Kongsi attended his first ever Beatles concert.
He figured he needed to bring something that would make him stand out from the rest so that the band performing on stage could notice him. So he invented this nifty tool and brought him along to the concert. Sure enough, John Lennon spotted the boy’s distinctive gold-hand-on-a-stick from the crowd and Lennon was so impressed that he invited the boy to the Beatles penthouse later that night and have a big private party with lots of hot chicks.

And that, my friends, is why people perform this hand gesture all the time during rock concerts. True story.


Karma Point Collection: Yvonne Foong and Blackjetta YC have teamed up with students from Nottingham University to organise a charity fashion show happening at Zouk KL, 7:30pm this 22nd March. The fashion show will feature fashion by local designers, including dresses by YC herself.
Check out the poster and tell me if you noticed something weird about the guy in it. 😛

123 Replies to “Khoo Kongsi Is Cool”

  1. uuhhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhh 1st finally………..
    But wow Kenny, so have you considered a sia kongsi???
    Would be cool to invent your own hand gesture and all and have the big balls hall of fame……….
    hahahaha
    seriously a cool find……caln houses are an important heritage nowadays…it reminds us of our roots and the lessons passed on by our ancestors…..really cool for oyu to find it Kenny……

  2. Why don’t you pay a visit to the Sia Kong Si? Though it is not as nice the Khoo’s, but it is a 3 storey huge bungalow near Peel Avenue.

  3. I saw the poster. Damn funny. I initially thought the guy was holding something indecent in his hand. Maybe the photographer purposely shot it this way to capture attention. We have a Kay Poh road in Singapore near River valley which is one of the prime district in S’pore. I think it must be named after someone who was very Kay Poh.

  4. My friend is actually from the Khoo kongsi. and the person next to Kay Poh, is actually my friend’s granddad!! i think! haha, looks like a pic in their house.

  5. 邱公祠前两侧摆放的各种牌子,叫做’执事牌’或’执士牌’,古代本来是皇帝出巡时才使用的道具,但是后来庙宇和官府在办描庙会和出巡时加以模仿,所以同样的道具也在民间流传,并且随着各自出巡的功能而不停增添,变得越来越多样化。
    一般常见的执事牌除了有’肃静”回避’等字样的长脚牌之外,还有分日牌、月牌、槊、短槊、枪等等兵器或法器;而kenny拍摄到的,应该就是一种名为’佛手’的法器,是妈祖庙会出巡时常见的法器之一。
    相信邱公祠深受福建妈祖文化影响,所以可以在那里找到有关的法器。
    谨以上述有趣资料和大家共享之。

  6. I was just reaching to answer the company phone.
    instead of hearing me announce the company’s name, my client heard me laughing away coz at that point in time, i scrolled to the last foto.

  7. 另补充:邱公祠是宗祠,是同一族人供奉祖先的家庙或祠堂,不是祭拜神明的普通神庙。

  8. hahaha….funny…
    the guy in the poster also damm weird…a sunglasses at *ahem*…
    it’s good that u post things like this…can intro our culture to others…so-called integration….hehe..

  9. Been there once, many years ago. Awesome piece of art i must say.
    But apparently, not many penangites know of its existence! (maybe its just my bunch of frens).

  10. considerably disrespectful of kenny to spin a story about the ‘weapon’, since some of the commentors pointed out that it was/could be/most probably a symbol of the buddha’s hand gesture…..but a funny post nevertheless.
    had me wondering when i saw the pic of the hand gesture too….haha. good one.

  11. am i imagining or wat: did the guy inside the poster suck-in his tummy??
    anyway, love the way you define clanhouse -where a bunch of people with the same surnames get together and talk about how cool it is to be related to one another – it got me in fits of laughter lolz!

  12. haha kenny, i think you are really sensitive and you see things which we normally don’t, and we don’t normally wonder like you too, this is genuinely funny

  13. About the poster, it’s probably from some gay porn site, and they photoshopped his grasping of his meat cigar to an innocent pair of shades…
    what they failed to realise is that people are gonna wonder why ANYONE would choose to keep their shades in their crotch…
    check that… I don’t wanna know…

  14. I guess the guy in the poster which mia say it has 4 fingers is the weird thing. Probably an illusion where he was hiding his thumb or something and at the same time that pose was snapped. 😀

  15. hi kenny,
    fyi the kay poh is known as Tan Sri Dato Khoo Kay Poh who is still living in penang and a trustee of of St. Xavier’s Inst. (old school boy) n long time politician

  16. Dudes! You got it all wrong about the hand gesture. The guy who made the hand weapon was from Hawaii and that is the “Hang Loose” gesture. When someone challenge him to a fight, he would point the weapon at the challenger and he would ease up. Gesture also work on animals (as demonstrated in Crocodile Dundee movie). Surfs up!

  17. The poster is photoshopped! Notice the sunglasses the guy(?) is holding. It’s halfway in his pants. And also, there’s an outline of a photoshopped tummy there. So fake!

  18. This time I think you went overboard of insulting the Khoo clan. Please think before you write next time. It is not funny if people start making names out of it.

  19. khoo kongsi,,,looks nice and an intresting place to go in penang…that beatle hand gesture story was funnny..hehe

  20. 那佛手,是佛学中的其中一种手印。要配上咒语的。一般人将神和佛的谈论混为一块了。得空来探望我的网志吧。我准备谈谈一些关于神佛的论文。就是缺乏读者。来支持我一下。
    http://www.chuchen.blogspot.com/

  21. Hi Kenny,
    You are right the guy in the fashion poster does look weird. For some reason, he thinks his penis needs the sunglasses more then his eyes do. Button up your shirt dude! Its not pretty seeing a skinny white guy, with zero muscle mass parade around like that.
    Crazy ang mohs….

  22. So lame. They did a lot of philantrophy, even the Queen had given OBE’s to some ..I should know I grew up going there often and many in those portraits are related..Frankly your posts are starting to get desperate. I have been reading for past 2 years and have enjoyed many posts and recently its getting more immature

  23. I used to enjoy your posts. These days I don’t understand why you have to seem to so disrespectful in your posts.
    Why the attitude? You write like a 16 year old seeking attention.

  24. Look guys, I don’t know exactly WHICH part of my entry is offensive. If any of my reader can kindly point it out to me, I’ll be very appreciative. Because I don’t think I am making fun of anyone in my entry. The intention was to highlight the Khoo Kongsi clanhouse temple as a tourist attraction without sounding like a boring tour brochure.
    So yes, dear readers. Comment here and tell me what is it I wrote that seem to rile up people and come across as offensive or disrespectful.
    Thank you.

  25. kenny don’t use to replying comment a lot..
    he must be damn tulan with all the comments he recently get, cheer out kenny..
    its a tough job keeping up from idea to idea for your blog everyday,
    respect

  26. Well, here is my point of view. Perhaps people say it is quite insulting and stuff most probably because of the way you write. Maybe you can try to write a little more serious. 🙂

  27. What the hell?! Din ur momma teach you to RESPECT the scared Buddhist hand sign? Photoshop into a rock show summore! ….You Rock!….

  28. Gosh…. I don’t see any offensiveness in Kenny’s post….Why all the b*tching about Kenny’s post?…..Kenny is just blogging about the Khoo Kongsi and all….Man, these people must be anti-Kenny’s blog….jeolous of his popularity of his blog…..

  29. if u wan to promote the Khoo Kongsi clanhouse do it properly! Not to use someone’s name as a highlight. n did u even bother to ask the curator wat those things at the front are? so disrespectful n ignorant like wat u blogged about Admiral Cheng Ho.

  30. SleightOfThought,
    none of us know what is the hand gesture mean, it might b a weapon, it might b buddha’s hand, and even the sign of devil. bt the probability of buddha’s hand very low lo. if it is a buddha’s hand, it shouldn’t be placed together with the weapons wat, outside the house somemore. if like that u should said that the khoo clan disrespect lo, bc they never place the buddha’s hand properly.

  31. wuttu>>if u havent noticed by now (which is very weird since most ppl did), kenny’s blog is about stupid humour and being silly. how many times have u seen him being serious in this blog? not many.
    as if u never laughed at ppl’s unfortunate names b4. tsk.
    it may be immature. but it’s all in the name of being silly and lighthearted fun. nthg insulting abt that. it’ll be insulting if he continues to poke fun of mr khoo kay poh’s parents’ mental health when they decided to name him.
    take a deep breath, im sure it’ll work wonders for tensed ppl like u. 🙂
    cheers.

  32. This is the 1st time me commenting here. I’m quite a fan of yours. Just to share with you… i came across a blogspot, the owner used to be from the same college as i used to be (we do not know each other), he snapped good pics of Khoo Kongsi too and posted it not long ago. Not sure if he edited it before… but check it out if you have time. 🙂
    http://adrian-tan.blogspot.com/

  33. Oh, won’t we all spare each other in the name of jest. I wasn’t all that serious when I was speculating that it was the Buddhist hand sign that was in the photo (by which I was refering to the edited “rock show” pic) since I’m not all that pious and stuff (which would also explain my ignorance to the fact that it may be some diabolical symbol).
    I wasn’t really refering to the actual biological hand of Buddha, so there’s really no need to go to the aspect of respect.
    I mean, I have seen stone statues (with molds too) of Buddha being left out alone in the rain, shine, exhaust smoke, profanities….etc. Could you label this as disrespect since its not being sheltered from its unforgiving environments?
    I remember vaguely there being a gigantic Kuan Yin statue in either Hong Kong/Taiwan/Macau which was left unsheltered (and it being a popular tourist spot).
    And, logically speaking (I wouldn’t have gone to this part until I found out some people really don’t have an ounce of lateral thinking), the “hand” could not possibly have been a weapon. I mean “Lookie here! I’ve got myself a …..hand… -.-..Nonetheless, you shud be effing terrified.” *waves hand as terrrifyingly possible*.
    The fact that its place beside a FAKE/BLUNT spear/sword of some sort meant that it was purely ornamental (including the spear/sword). On its other side is the “pumpkin” thingy, which oh-so-surprisingly looks as tame as a pigeon (nevermind that it could have been a distorted replication of a mace!)
    My guess is that the temple are sprucing up the place in hopes of attracting more tourists=money. Perhaps in doing so, they may have relegated the decor task to juniors who(may,again I stress may not know much about decor or significant symbols – i’m none the wiser of course =P.) You know how important funds are to them…haven’t we all experience a lil deja vu about any religious constitutions for that matter in ways direct/indirect asking for donations. And I bet they are going BIG….as in UNESCO Heritage Protection BIG!…all that paperwork is a good excuse for overlooking a misplaced hand, don’t you think?
    Just to be safe, I shall now further protect myself by saying that all the above mentioned is purely SPECULATIVE & if you must in JEST. I therefore welcome your free thoughts as you would humor mine. Peace Out folks. *.*

  34. haha i noe wads wrong wif the poster..
    half the shades are photoshopped into the jeans..so the sunglasses disappear halfway into the jeans
    dun think the guy got 4 fingers, the last finger can still be seen altho its really tiny.

  35. lol kenny another funny post…
    I agree with you la… where got offensive….
    If you guys take things a little more open-mindedly and with a sense of humour, there would’nt be so many wars nowadays..
    CHILL!

  36. “The intention was to highlight the Khoo Kongsi clanhouse temple as a tourist attraction without sounding like a boring tour brochure.”
    I totally agree! Geez, stop being so uptight and please have a sense of humour!

  37. pls don’t stop being funnny, and I certainly don’t think you insulted the Khoo clan!
    You even said they are cool what!

  38. Oh btw kenny, I think they took offence at the hand thingy.
    Some find it disrespectful that you used an religious object to make a joke out of. Despite it being funny, I’d have to say that it was a little out of line as well… just so you know.
    Racial and religious sensitivities are never good areas to inject humor into; more often than not, they turn out ugly, so, yeah maybe you should be more considerate rgd the hand thingy.
    you may not feel that it’s offensive, but some may. 🙂

  39. Haha.. i have no idea what’s wrong with the guy. Do enlighten us. There’s so many guessing around here. Is the the sunnies at the crotch? The sunken tummy? Or the 4 finger? =P
    By the way, I don’t find the post offensive but its true, some ppl may think it that way coz you took a Buddhist object and make a joke out of it.
    But if there’s nothing to it that no worries.
    But its your blog so don’t mind them! =)
    Take care!

  40. Hey Kenny, i went to Khoo Kongsi the other day and was also curious bout the hand thingy..and i think wat it meant is..YES I WON..probably..and also..Kenny u miss one thing..u din go to Cheah Kongsi which is just at Jalan Armenian,behind there..hehe..its pretty interesting also..hehe..

  41. that is a buddhist hand gesture called “莲花指”. u see GuanYin images & statues have this gestures. kenny, the webpage u showed us do not have all the buddhist hand gestures in it. from what i had been told, there are actually alot more hand gestures than we know. it’s called “手印”. there are so many Bodhisattvas. different Bodhisattvas have different hand gestures. so, when u practise & chant their mantras, u have to use their individual hand gestures. furthermore, there are so many types of buddhism. just one website can’t tell eveything about buddhism..
    majority of us don’t think u are being disrespectful. eh, i think the hand gesture used in rock concert is different right? only the index & ring finger are pressed down. a buddhist one is the thumb pressing down on the index & ring fingers.

  42. kenny can u send me the link to the ipoh mali rap star website you posted awhile ago? i was looking for it, couldnt find it.

  43. some of these ppl who are so easily pissed off over such a small matter can juz STFU.
    and it seems like they alw like to use the phrase “i think” this “i think” that padahal they are obviously not thinking.
    dont lie.

  44. Firstly, this is juz a harmless entry thats meant to be fun. So whats with all the fuss?
    I do not understand. If people can be so infantile to make so much noise over such a minor issue, then why continue visitin this blog? F-O, honey.
    I mean, help laa. Save all the ‘holier than thou’ act and stop slammin this entry. *rolls eyes*
    Im a Buddhist myself and i dont see WHAT is wrong with this. If Buddha has humor -which i would like to think so- i think he’d appreciate the story Kenny spun out to entertain us.

  45. I believe that the weapon might not be a weapon at all. I think the goddess of mercy’s finger arrangements were like that. (dont quote me on that cause i am not the most religious person ever.)

  46. during my younger days, i spend every weekend at khoo kongsi. at that time, my grandparents were staying in the really old houses along the pathway leading to khoo kongsi. every weekend, my cousins and i would go climbing on the stairs there. yes, we were just little kids then. khoo kongsi at that time was very peaceful and secluded. it was not a popular spot for tourists. that time, we dint have to pay any sum for visits. looking back, i remember the times where i sat on the little lions there. or when i posed for photos with my cousins. or when we ran around the area chasing each other.
    guess thats not possible anymore huh?

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