Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman, built between 1910 and the early 1930s, was once owned by the penghulu or village headman of Mukim Bagan Samak in Bandar Baharu, Kedah. The house was originally located in a small village there called Kampung Sungai Kechil.
Today, you don’t have to travel all the way to Kedah to see it. In 1996, Badan Warisan Malaysia (Malaysia Heritage Trust) rescued, restored and relocated Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman to Kuala Lumpur. The house had been left dilapilated for years after the passing of the penghulu.
You will see the house standing juxtaposed among the city’s skyscrapers like the Petronas Twin Towers. There is also a herb garden next to it, with trees and plants that are of environmental, cultural and historic interest to Malaysia.
Why you should go
Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman is one of the oldest and few remaining examples of traditional Malay houses.
If you take the guided tour, you can see the interior of the house, which has been refurbished to include furniture from the olden days. Although these are not the original items, they do provide an insight into Malaysian history and culture.
The house comprises three main sections: Rumah Ibu, Dapur and Balai, which were constructed during different times.
Rumah Ibu was originally built for an important man by the name of Tok Taib in Kampung Paya Takong. When he passed away, it was then sold to the penghulu who had it dismantled and shifted to Kampung Sungai Kechil in the 1920s. The structure is elevated from the ground. It is used for public functions and entertaining guests.
The bedrooms are also located here. At the entrances of the two bedrooms are archways with the carvings of two birds.
The Balai was added later in the 1930s. It functioned as an office for the penghulu and comprises a covered verandah. All community and administrative matters were handled at the Balai, which also served as a meeting hall and a “lock-up” or holding area for wrongdoers in the village.
The Dapur has a lower flooring than the Rumah Ibu and Balai. There are separate stairs to this area and the carvings here appear less ornate.
What to do
You can take a guided tour to find out more about Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman. There are two tours at 11am and 3pm daily, from Monday to Saturday (closed on Sundays and public holidays). The cost of the guided tour is by a minimum donation of RM10.
Besides finding out more about Malaysian culture and architecture, there are curated experiences for young children and students too. These include educational programmes consisting of demonstrations, hands-on activities, role-playing and traditional games. You can learn about the restoration and relocation process of the house.
There are also curated programmes that include getting insights into the kampung lifestyle such as traditional wedding ceremonies and the birth of a child. Charges apply for curated programmes.
Who will like it
This place will appeal to locals who have an interest in traditional architecture as well as tourists who wish to learn more about Malaysian culture. It is also a good spot for photography with its natural light from windows and ambience.
Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman is located Badan Warisan Malaysia in KL. If you’re driving, the GPS coordinates are: 3.150544, 101.716610.
Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman
Address: 2 Jalan Stonor, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2144 9273