Lim Kongsi, or Lim Clan Association, is a Hokkien association located at Ah Quee Street, George Town. Its full name is Kew Leong Tong Lim Kongsi. Kew Leong Tong, which means Hall of Nine Dragons, is the principal association of Lim Kongsi. The name Kew Leong Tong is to commemorate the nine sons of a particular Lim clan in China who were elevated to the status of chief magistrates during the Tang Dynasty.
The head office is locked behind an iron grill gate at Ah Quee Street in Penang. It is one of three Lim clan associations in Penang, and is considered the parent of the three.
Kew Leong Tong front façade (13 February, 2005)
The Kew Leong Tong Lim Kongsi was founded by people of the Lim surname who came from the village of Koe Guan in the sub district of Sam Tor, in the district of Hai Teng, in Cheang Chew prefecture (presently Zhangzhou), in Hokkien (Fujian) Province, China. Nevertheless, the association is open to anybody surnamed Lim, regardless their origin and dialect.
The three Lim clan associations in Penang were established in 1863, in the 2nd year of the reign of Emperor Tong Ti. In addition to Kew Leong Tong, the other associations are Toon Pun Tong (also written Toong Pun Tong) and Bian Soot Tong. The Bian Soot Tong Lim Kongsi was confined to the descendents of two sub-groups of Koe Guan, namely the Keong Cheng and Eh Ho, whereas the Toon Pun Tong Lim Kongsi was open to all the families from Koe Guan. As for Kew Leong Tong, it is open to all Lims. The ancestral hall of both the Toon Pun Tong and Bian Soot Tong can still be found. They are at the village of Ao Quan, in Hai Cang district, within the prefecture-level city of Xiamen.
Location map of Ao Guan Village in Xiamen, China
Kew Leong Tong gateway (13 February, 2005)
On most days, the gate of Lim Kongsi is closed (30 June, 2014)
Lim Cheng Kah was the president of all the 3 Lim Kongsis, and the association was run from an office at Messrs Chop Heng Moh at 164 Beach Street. When the Lim Ancestral Temple building was completed in 1866, the Kew Leong Tong moved its office there. The address was 234 Beach Street. Later, Ah Quee Street was demolished when the Kapitan China Chung Keng Kwee alias Ah Quee donated his Beach Street shophouse to be demolished to create the street that bears his name. Ah Quee Street runs beside 164 Beach Street which also happens to be the longest shophouse in Penang.
In 1930, the three Lim Kongsis officially separated, and had different management committees. Nevertheless, whenever either of them hold an important function, members of all three associations are invited, and the functions are usually held at the joint premises at Kew Leong Tong.
Intricate design of the Lim Kongsi incense burner (13 February, 2005)
As one enters the Kew Leong Tong, one finds a well, and the shrine to Mar Chor Poh, the patron saint of seafarers, whose surname happens to also be Lim. The Lim Kongsi is the only local clan association whose patron deity is a female. Kew Leong Tong Lim Kongsi is one of the 5 trustee kongsis of the Chinese Recreational Club, CRC, and still supports children of Kongsi members who need scholarship and school supplies assistance.
If you wish to visit Lim Kongsi, be aware that at most times, Lim Kongsi is kept behind lock and key except during the Chinese New Year Open House.
九龙堂林公司 Kew Leong Tong Lim Kongsi
(Lim Kongsi Toon Pun Tong & Lim Sz Bian Soot Tong)
234, Beach Street
10300 George Town, Penang
Phone: 04 261 8716
Lim Kongsi 150th year celebration
The Lim Kongsi Toon Pun Tong and Lim Sz Bian Soot Tong jointly celebrated the sesquicentenary of its founding with a gala dinner at the association premises.
Baba Johny at Lim Kongsi 150th anniversary (7 December, 2013)
Using the Weld Quay Ferry & Bus Terminal as starting point, cross Pengkalan Weld using the pedestrian bridge. Turn left and walk along Pengkalan Weld until the junction of Gat Lebuh Chulia. Turn right into Gat Lebuh Chulia. Walk along Gat Lebuh Chulia. At the junction with Lebuh Pantai, Gat Lebuh Chulia becomes Lebuh Chulia. Cross Lebuh Chulia to its other side. Continue along Lebuh Chulia until the junction of Lorong Pitt. Turn left into Lorong Pitt. Lim Kongsi is located along Lebuh Ah Quee at the end of Lorong Pitt.
Kew Leong Tong Lim Kongsi at dusk during the Chinese New Year Open House (13 February, 2005)
What to see and do
Most of the time, Lim Kongsi is locked, but you can still catch a glimpse of the exquisite clan temple from the gate. If you are lucky that a caretaker is around, you can ask him to open the gate for you to get in.
Lim Kongsi is located within the core zone of the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site. There are numerous sights around it that you can also visit. Their location is reference to the Lim Kongsi gate. Among them:
Madrasah Hamid Arabi: Immediately to the left of Lim Kongsi. It is in an unrestored, rather dilapidated state.
Nagore Shrine: From the entrance of Lim Kongsi, head down Lorong Pitt. The Nagore Shrine is right up ahead, on the right side of Lebuh King.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple: From the entrance of Lim Kongsi, head down Lorong Pitt. At the junction of Lebuh Chulia, turn left. A short distance down is the junction of Lebuh Queen to the right. Turn right into it. The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is on the left side of Lebuh Queen.
Teochew Ancestral Temple: From the entrance of Lim Kongsi, head down Lorong Pitt. At the junction of Lebuh Chulia, turn left. The Teochew Ancestral Temple is on the left side of Lebuh Chulia, in front of the junction with Lebuh Queen.
Masjid Kapitan Keling: From the entrance of Lim Kongsi, turn left and walk along Lebuh Ah Quee until you reach the junction of Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Cross the road and Masjid Kapitan Keling is on the opposite side of the road.
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