A Fine Chinese Mansion in Medan

Text and photos by Sundralingam Saminathan

Signboard outside the mansion.

During the recent Chinese New Year holidays in February I made a trip to Medan, Indonesia. What attracted me there was one rare Chinese mansion with a link to the ‘Blue Mansion’ in Penang, which refers, of course, to the rather famous Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.

This fine Chinese mansion in Medan belongs to Tjong A Fie, a nephew of Cheong Fatt Tze. Their surname appears in different romanizations because one is in the Straits Settlement in Malaya and the other in Indonesian Sumatra. Incidentally Cheong Fatt Tze had set foot in Indonesia earlier than his nephew before settling down in Penang in the 1890s.

The facade of the mansion seen from Jalan Jendral A Yani.

Tjong A Fie Mansion is a heritage building on Jalan Jendral A Yani, a main road in Medan. Built in 1900, it was completed four years earlier than the Blue Mansion. Like his uncle’s in Penang, though relatively smaller, Tjong’s mansion was laid out in the style of a Chinese courtyard mansion. Both buildings incorporate European Art Nouveau design elements, but Tjong’s has concrete columns with ornamental capital, and gilded timber filigree doors. Both buildings are considered the finest of its kind outside of China.

Lion guarding the entrance.

Tjong A Fie was born Tjong Fung Nam in 1860 in Sungkow, a Hakka village in Meixien. At the age of twenty, he joined his elder brother in Deli (now Medan). He was a successful businessman, banker and plantation owner, and had more than 10,000 workers under his employment. He was the first Chinese to own a tobacco plantation in Bandar Baroe. An imminent personality and well-respected in the local community, Tjong was appointed Kapitan Cina by the Dutch government. Like his uncle in Penang, Tjong bore a title awarded by the Emperor of China.

The legendary Tjong A Fie died of a stroke in 1921 and was buried in Pulau Berayan, Medan.

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1 Response to “A Fine Chinese Mansion in Medan”


  1. 1 Philom Pereira April 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Your contribution in this article was very informative. Do carry on the great job…


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