A Seafaring Legacy...
Hainanese Mariners Lodge
26-A Stewart Lane, George Town.
Today, the powder blue, double-storey building is home to Japanese sculptor Hitori Nakayama – a prominent personality in the local art scene who has proudly called Penang “home” for close to two decades.
Although it is not always open to the public, the artist has said that he will – from-time-to-time, welcome visitors into his home-cum-gallery when he has his art shows.
While the building itself is quite a piece of work, its history is an adventure and an important part of Hainanese heritage.
The Hainanese Mariners' Lodge or Loon Gnee Hing (literally translated, it means “Lodge of the Artisans of the Wheel”) was once home to itinerant Hainanese mariners and their families.
The Hainanese – one of the many Chinese dialect groups that migrated to Penang in search of fame and fortune in the 19th century, are renowned for their cooking and seafaring skills (curiously, two very distinct fields indeed). Since trading was already dominated by their other countrymen, the Hainanese honed their skills in cooking and sailing the high seas.
Over time, the cooks - who started out serving in European and Straits Chinese households, became famous for their special Hainanese Chicken Rice, while the more adventurous became sailors much envied for their bravery and navigational skills.
These days, Hainanese Mariners' Lodge stands as a reminder of the community’s glorious past that will always be an integral part of Penang’s history.