An excellent example of a Qing Dynasty, gray brick Chinese courtyard townhouse, Lou Kau Mansion is one of twenty two sites in the historic centre of Macau. Built in 1889 by a rich Chinese merchant, Lou Ka, the house was used by the family up until 1910. The house can be approached through Travessa da Se, a narrow street off Largo Senado.
The narrow two storey structure has the characteristics typical of a Xiguan Chinese house with architectural details similar to those found in the Lingnan region. The first thing that catches the eye of visitors to the house is the ornate recessed entranceway and the frieze above it featuring a traditional Chinese scene, said to drive away bad luck. This sets the tone for the rest of the house which has several finely carved and decorated details that echo those at the entrance such as the floor tiles, doorways and filigree wooden panels of the room separators. The house is also distinguished by little touches of Portuguese influence such as the wooden balustrades on the stairway, perforated wooden ceilings and coloured glass window panes.
The entrance opens into a hall with wings on either side through which one can view two courtyards bringing in natural light and air and which would have provided privacy and security to the residents. The courtyards also divide the house into three sections, the entrance hall, the tea hall and the senior hall. Members of the household would have used the spaces according to the traditional structure of the Chinese family. Strangers were entertained in the outermost courtyard and the inner courtyard was only for family members and close friends.
Restored to its original condition in 2002, the house is also furnished with Chinese furniture of the relevant era, giving it a very elegant yet lived in look. It is a much visited tourist attraction in old Macau, while the house also hosts concerts of Cantonese music on the premises.
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