Cheong Fatt Tze Mansions in Penang, Malaysia (a feng shui analysis)

On 05/11/2010, in Blog, Features, Forensic Feng Shui, by Michael Oon

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (high angle shot) Much has been written about this property. Construction of the building was started in 1880s to Cheong Fatt Tze who was reputed to be one of the richest men in the East with the title of “Rockefeller of the East” or “JP Morgan of the East”. More information […]

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (high angle shot)

Much has been written about this property. Construction of the building was started in 1880s to Cheong Fatt Tze who was reputed to be one of the richest men in the East with the title of “Rockefeller of the East” or “JP Morgan of the East”. More information can be had at the website Cheong Fatt Tze mansion

It is reputed that the property had been designed with the best feng shui masters from China. Confirmation of whether a property has been worked by a feng shui master is extremely difficult. The top echelon of feng shui consultants that I know, do the work for clients on the understanding of no recognition or publicity.

The aim of this posting is to look at the various aspects of the feng shui of the property and make comments.

Feng Shui Analysis:


The property is on side street away from Leith Street. The servants quarters is located parallel and in front of the building.
Leith Street is on a void line; between the 2 directional sectors of SW/W and NE/E. It is not recommended to have a property facing a void line; you will encounter persistent problems.

The property is on a side street and faces South east, a different direction so as to avoid a negative.
Google Earth - Cheong Fatt Tze
Google Earth view of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

The servants quarters being built parallel to the front of the building. This is to maintain an even and balanced energy flow passing the property.

It is said, at the turn of the 1900s, Leith Street was near the sea and there were no large buildings nearby unlike now. Therefore, I am not able to comment any more about the external environment around the area as it has changed with time. Therefore, I cannot comment on the amount of external energy flowing into the building.

Comment on the Interiors:

· External Electrical Light – Poison arrow?
· Inner Courtyard Well
· Air well

1. External Electric Light – Poison arrow?
There is an external electric light post directly in front of the main door. It has been mentioned many a time “Isn’t that a poison arrow?” Any property that had been designed with feng shui would not have any deliberate poison arrows. Poison arrows emanate shar qi.

Cheong Fatt Tze - Front view
View out of the Front Door of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion –
Background – the Servants quarters
Brick Fence and Electric Lamp
Door and hanging lamp shade.

However, the direction of the external electric light is in an “Out of Gua” position. In other words, this electric light post does not affect the property.

In the Da Gua formula, there are certain directions where the effects of “poison arrows” does not affect the property. These directions are called “Out of Gua”.

Why was the electric light stand placed there? At that time, electricity was new to Penang and, in my opinion, it was a status symbol, “we have the facility to have electric lights rather than gas lights”.

2. Inner Courtyard Well

Image 3 (courtyard pool)

Cheong Fatt Tze - Courtyard Well
View of the Courtyard Well with one of the water exits.

As I understand it, the courtyard well is for water collected from the roof to flow down to the ground floor. This was a way to rid the water to the drains outside the property in a controlled manner. A secondary function of this water flow is to cool the building. It is also said, collecting rain water is symbolic of accumulating energy from the heavens.
There are two channels of flow into and out of the courtyard well. Standing at the back of the well, the channels are East and South. They cover the both the Upper and Lower Yuan Periods, in other words, it covers the complete 180 year cycle.

3. Air Well

These air wells are a characteristic of terraced or linked properties of the
Peranakan in Penang, Malacca and Singapore.

An air well increases the air ventilation within the building thereby keeping the place cool. I have been in a property with the air well closed. The temperature got unbearable at about mid-day but, as soon as the air well was opened, the temperature dropped making it quite bearable.

As it appears, the main feng shui justification for the air well similar to the courtyard in a traditional Chinese property is built around a courtyard.

An example of a traditional Chinese house with a courtyard. The sub-houses at the side of the courtyard are individual units that have doors and windows that can close. Image: courtesy of University of Washington.

The purpose of feng shui is to accumulate energy (qi) in the property so that the occupants of the property will have the best of “luck”. When there is an air-well inside the house, the energy does not accumulate as it is released to the exteriors, the atmosphere in this case.

A traditional Chinese courtyard house has “sub-houses” (with doors and windows) for members of the extended family that surround the courtyard. Therefore, the courtyard is outside the “sub-houses”, it is external to the accommodations..

In the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, there are 3 air-wells which are inside the structure of the building. These air-wells are therefore internal. These air-wells allow the energy to be released to the outside from the inside of the property.

In this building, there are a total of 3 air wells. In other words, people living there are literally living in the “open”.


The property incorporates a number of feng shui features to the property.

The building avoids the inauspicious directions of the road by having the building in a separate street.

The energy flow to the property has been evened out with the property the location of the servant’s quarters in front of the property.

The location of electric lamp post does not affect the “feng shui” of the property.

The airwell does not allow the accumulation of energy because of total opening of the property to the elements.
In my opinion, this does not help the good feng shui features of the property.

The owner – Cheong Fatt Tze, did not live in the property for long. It was left to his children but they had differing interests.

Unfortunately, the building was eventually left to a ruin but it was restored to its glory
as a hotel. This project received a UNESCO Heritage Award in 2000.

Dr Michael Oon

(c) Copyright – Dr Michael Oon. All Rights Reserved Worldwide 2012.

About Michael Oon

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