Penang was one of the trading centers that made up the Straits Settlements, a British crown colony from 1826 to 1946. The Penang City Hall pictured here was built by the British in 1903 to serve as municipal offices for Penang. Today the building is home to the Penang Island City Council. The British, of course, are long gone.
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion, built towards the end of the 19th century, was the home to a very wealthy Chinese man and his extended family. Though the tour I took of the Mansion did not make this clear – the guide was full of information, or so it seemed, but next to impossible to understand – I presume the man made his fortune as a trader. Chinese trading networks built around families originally from Guangdong and Fujian in southern China have played an enormous role in the history of Southeast Asia. You certainly see their influence everywhere in Penang. In any case, the Mansion is now a museum housing a magnificent collection of traditional Chinese arts and crafts, from painting and jewelry to jade, porcelain, and embroidery. This is a photo of the beautifully carved wooden door panels that form the original entrance to the building.