Moon Gate





          
Moon Gate, PenangMoon Gate, Penang (2 June, 2013)





The Moon Gate is a heritage gateway along Jalan Kebun Bunga, on the way to the Penang Botanic Gardens. It is the gateway to the 19th Century country house of Cheah Chen Eok, the famous millionaire best remembered for building the Queen Victoria Memorial Clocktower at the Esplanade to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of the monarch. The remains of his bungalow is just a few yards up the path. I am appalled that there is little information about the Moon Gate on the web today. A quick search reveals a long list of mentions, but all of them about the Gate being the preferring hiking rendezvous, none about when the gate was built, who built it, and for what purpose.

Moon Gate, Penang Botanic GardensMoon Gate, Penang Botanic Gardens (20 May, 2006)


The 19th century mansion now lies in ruins some 15 minutes from the Moon Gate. The mansion or bungalow was one of 11 famous mansions of Penang as mentioned in the Penang Gazeteer by visiting Chinese scholar Li Jun who stayed in Penang for 3 months in 1891. The name of the mansion is "Yu Yi Yuan" (Yu Yi Garden). According to Bin Lang Yu Zhi Lue, it was located to the right of the water source, presumably the Waterfall reservoir.

There was a plaque at the Moon Gate which read "Yong Yi". "Yu Yi" and "Yong Yu" are derived from the Analects of Confucious (24th paragraph in the Xian Jin Chapter of the Lun Yu). Yi is the name of a river in Shan Don Province in northeast China. Yu Yi means to take a bath in the Yi river, and Yong Yi probably means singing praises of the river Yi.

The Moon Gate is the remnant of mansions built in the late 19th century, when there emerged a wealthy class within the Chinese community in Penang, when the Chinese towkays and mandarins started building country homes in imitation of those of the Europeans. So far, there is no full agreement to whom the Moon Gate belong. Some sources (Raymond Kwok; Star 14/8/05; Sunday Star 16/10/05 by Kasturi Dewi) attributed it to Cheah Chen Eok, who also owned the Combe Hill bungalow in Gelugor.

The area surrounding Moon Gate was originally settled by South Indians who left their mark with the many Hindu temples, many of which have grown substantially. According to the book The Chulia in Penang, there was a Tamil village here by the name of Narkalikarar Thandal Kampam inhabited mostly by the doolie carriers.1

Moon GateMoon Gate (3 January, 2005)


Getting there

The bus stop along Jalan Kebun Bunga is served by Rapid Penang bus 10.

Moongate is on the map of Jalan Kebun Bunga

References

  1. Khoo Salma Nasution, The Chulia in Penang (Areca Books, 2014, p.14)


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