Malay Heritage House Still Stands Tall in Melaka

Last update: 24/12/2018

By Shaidathul Suhana Ros

This is the first of a two-part article on the Demang Abdul Ghani Gallery in Merlimau, which used to be the ancestral home of the descendants of the village headman who built the house 187 years ago. 

MELAKA (Bernama) -- The fragrant scent of 'bunga cempaka' (Magnolia champaca) and 'bunga tanjung' (Mimusops elengi/Spanish cherry) permeated the morning air as Prof Dr Noor Hassim Ismail sat sipping tea in the spacious verandah of what was once his ancestral home.

Turned into the Demang Abdul Ghani Gallery in 2011, the stunning wooden house depicting traditional Melaka architecture with a dash of Chinese influence was declared a national heritage by the federal government about two months ago.

Gripped by a wave of nostalgia, the 63-year-old university lecturer recalled his childhood days growing up in this house in Merlimau, Jasin. 

Located about 23 kilometres from Melaka's city centre, the 187-year-old ancestral house belonged to his grandfather Abdul Ghani Abdul Majid, better known as Demang Abdul Ghani, who was a well-respected village headman in Merlimau.

Although Dr Noor Hassim, who is now attached to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Faculty of Medicine, "migrated" to Kuala Lumpur four decades ago, he still has fond memories of playing with his friends beside the pond in front of the house. 

"This old house evokes a lot of wonderful memories but it is not the only house that my grandfather had built in this area. In fact, he had two more houses here. All three houses had high aesthetic value but due to certain factors, only this house remains to this day," he told Bernama.

The house, situated on a 0.4-hectare plot, was built by Demang Abdul Ghani in 1831 before he was appointed chieftain in 1834 to replace his father Abdul Majid. The latter was known to be a wealthy man from Palembang in Sumatera, Indonesia, who was also credited with opening one of the earliest settlements in Merlimau.....