Saturday, October 4, 2008

where can you find this colourful building?

the other day i arranged to meet victor samuel and patrick for lunch. he asked me to meet him at gholia's village. i had no idea where this place was but he mentioned a landmark building just directly opposite the meeting place.

the original building was not so colourful. after restoration, they re-painted it and added a lot of small lights to it.


1 who built this villa and for whom?

2 what is its address?

3 what is the malay name for the decorative swinging doors?

4 what is its present use?

house of tan teng niah at no. 37 on kerbau road. tan teng niah, a chinese businessman, built this house for his wife. the intricately carved swinging door is known as pintu pagar in malay. until recently, it was used for some commercial purposes. today, it is empty.


Victor said...

Actually, this quiz got me stumped for a while. But a little sleuthing on the web rewarded me with the answer. The following passage is extracted from this website:

Tan Tang Niah's House (37 Kerbau Road)

Built in 1900, this exquisitely restored house is one of the last urban villa built in the Strait Chinese style found in Little India. It is believed to be built for Tan's wife.

Located at 37 Kerbau Road, this house was once called "Elegant Pine" which symbolised the Chinese virtue - endurance.

But I still don't know what the swing doors are called in Malay.

yg said...

victor has a tendency to change names or mix up names; so, teng naih becomes tang niah just as potong pasir became pasir panjang.

Icemoon said...

yg, victor got that from the STB website ..

Victor said...

Hey, don't tell me even the plaque at the site got it wrong? The name "Tan Teng Niah" appears 4 times on the plaque. (BTW, I took that photo just today.) Could YG's spelling of the name be wrong instead? Hmm...

For the record, the plaque says:

Residence of Tan Teng Niah

This elegant house is one of the last surviving Chinese villas in Little India. Built in 1900, this eight-room villa was restored in the 1980s. Winner of the Singapore Institute of Architects Honourable Mention award in 1991, this villa abounds with architectural richness. On both sides of the house, carriage gates lead into a courtyard. The second storey overhangs the first, creating a space resembling a five-foot way - a colloquial term used to refer to the porch of colonial shophouses. At the entrance is a richly carved pintu pagar in the form of decorative swinging doors that open into a living room covered wall-to-wall with calligraphic scrolls. Above the entrance hangs a gilded engraved name plate with the calligraphic inscription siew song, meaning "elegant pine". The pine symbolises endurance, and it is thought that it referred to Tan's wife, for whom the villa was built.

Tan Teng Niah was the owner of a confectionery business, along with a few other small businesses. He owned several sweet-making factories along Serangoon Road and a rubber smokehouse on Kerbau Road. Businessmen like Tan Teng Niah were a minority in Little India where the cattle and textile traders dominated. Nevertheless, Tan found his niche and clearly prospered, as his large villa attests.

yg said...

victor, if you check your answer you can see that you have it as Tan Tang Niah instead of Tan Teng Niah.

Icemoon said...

Opps, double whammy for Victor.

I got it wrong too. I thought the website belongs to STB, but no! So the website was never authoritative. Of course lah, littleindia website not expert on things chinese.

shedjago said...

Nice Building.. creative ...