Welcome to Tjong A Fie Mansion, The Historical Jewel of Medan
I had realized that I did not write a lot about touristic places from my home town. Well, since I am here now, I am trying to enjoy the city and explore tourism sites in the city. One of them is Tjong A Fie Mansion.
Last week, I managed to visit the mansion with my good friend Sebastian who was home for his short vacation. It was not my first visit, but still it’s still worth it since my last visit was like ages ago. We came in the morning. When we arrived, there were some tourists around, but not too many. We still could wander around and took picture of ourself without having other people in the background.
Tjong A Fie Mansion is one of noteworthy landmarks in Medan and one of the most luxurious example of buildings for Peranakan culture in Indonesia. Peranakans are the ethnic groups descended from provinces of Southern China who came to Malay archipelago (now Malaysia and Singapore), Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), and southern Thailand from 15th to 17th centuries.
Tjong A Fie was born in 1860 in Guangdong, China. Coming from poor origin Chinese family, in order to have the better life, he left the mainland China to Labuan Deli Sumatera when he was eighteen. Following the steps of his brother who was already well-known at that time, together they made business and developed relationship with the Dutch rulers and the Sultanate of Deli. The business covered real estate, banks, railroads, tobacco, rubber, palm oil, mining and sugar plantations. In 1991, Tjong A Fie was appointed as Majoor der Chineezen, a high-ranking government position in the civil administration to lead China community in Medan, during the colonial occupancy in Indonesia, to replace his brother after he passed away. In conducting his role, he was not only wise, but also generous by giving a percentage of his wealth to the Medan’s community as a whole, regardless their race and religion. He constructed public facilities, such as schools, hospitals, temples, churches, and mosques in Sumatera, Malaysia and China. Tjong A Fie died in 1921 because of apoplexy. During his funeral, thousands people gathered and walked behind his casket to give their last respect to their great leader. His descendants live throughout the world.
The mansion was built in 1895, consists two story floors and 35 rooms on an area of 8000 square meter. Beside a landmark, the mansion is also dedicated to a cultural heritage building and museum. Its architecture adopted the influence of Malay, Chinese and Art Deco styles. Built by observing Feng-shui principles, its rooms are located on four sides of the structures and surround a big inner courtyard in the middle, which is known as Well of Heaven. And the journey began as we passed the two granite lions at the main gate. Entrance fee is required, Rp.35.000 for each. The fee includes the guide. English speaking guide could be asked by request. Since it was not our first visit, Sebastian and I prefer to explore the house by ourselves.
The mansion is beautiful and calm. The Venetian made tiles were well-kept and polished. The ceilings are decorated by hand-painted patterns with the scene of phenix and butterflies. The light fixtures represent the mix of Chinese and European style on that period. Through the huge wooden door, we entered the ground floor of the house. The main hall is decorated in Chinese style. We passed the living room, bed room with mahogany bed, artifacts from that era, dining room and generously-sized kitchen with authentic pestle and mortar stones.
We went to the second floor through simply wooden stairs. The public area consist of Kwan Ti Kong temple and the ballroom. Some photos from the past are exhibited in the ballroom. Still, we are amazed by carefully designed spaces which were designed by applying artful architecture details. One of the side of the mansion is still used as private residences for the family members of Tjong A Fie. Today, the mansion is managed by his descendant, Mr. Fon Prawira.
Medan is limited with touristic places. Therefore, if you have a chance to visit Medan, ensure to put Tjong A Fie Mansion on your list.