The Lou Kau Mansion:
The Lou Kau Mansion, erected circa 1889, was once the decadent mansion home of possibly one of Macau’s most influential historical characters. Lu Kau (Shortened from his Chinese title – Lu Huashao) was an eccentric businessman who against all odds, came from rags to riches in Macau’s early history, by opening some of the first casinos in the region at the end of the 19th century. With a persistence and and innovative passion he saw a series business opportunities bring him great wealth and power.
His story and industrial influences played pivotal roles in Macau’s future. These initial successes played a pivotal role in the booming casino industry that we see in Macau today. It is the legacy of this man, often understated, and easily forgotten in such a rapidly growing casino industry, that makes his Mansion – a standing testament to his life story and a living representation of his role in the regions foundations, that makes this site so astoundingly significant. His story is more than just history in the making, it is one of hardship and success, and one that ends tragically at the cost of his greed. Read more in the history tab to find out the story of both his life and the Lou Kau Mansion.
Tourist Information of the Lou Kau Mansion:
Address: No.7, Travessa da Sé
Bus routes nearby: 3, 3X, 4, 6A, 8A, 18A, 19, 26A, 33, N1A
Admission: Free on some days, tickets other days may vary – call in advanced for more information
Cultural Events at the Lou Kau Mansion:
On many occasions the Macau Chinese Orchestra has held small-scale concerts here in the Mansion. The melodies of a traditional Chinese style played by some of the finest musicians with flawless synchronicity are a trademark of the Orchestra. Their concerts are very popular among both tourists, locals, and visitors from both home and abroad.
There are many folk artists display their works, and present the local customs and practices of the region within the mansion. The Embroidery of Chaozhou for example, or the Paper cutting crafts of Foshan, have been presented here, both artists keeping the traditional and unique artisans crafts from the Guanddong Province alive and well. Their works and others of these ancient craftsmanship’s have been listed as items of “National Intangible Cultural Heritages. These craftsmen and others presenting their work in the mansion keep up a tradition that has attracted tourists with great interest.
History of the Lou Kau Mansion
The Lou Kau Mansion (Case De Lou Kau in Portuguese) was once the humble abode of the renowned businessman Lu Hua Shao (Who also went by Lu Kau) one of the very first entrepreneurs to open up a series of Casinos in Macau in the late 19th century – in a way, he was the foundation for the future Casino empire we see in Macau today. His home was constructed circa 1889 during the reign of Emperor Guangxu in the Qing Dynasty which ruled over all of China from 1644 to 1911 and was the last dynasty of China before the Chinese Civil war saw a change to Communism.
Despite the Lou Kau Mansions traditional Chinese foundation, it’s ornamentation depicts Western design elements, indicative of its historical foundations of Macau’s past as a Portuguese colony. Oyster shell windows, hanging scrolls, plaster molding and intricate brick carvings are common decor found in central Guangdong Province.
Lou Kou saw his gambling empire earn him an illustrious fortune, but it seems karma came full circle in the end, he lost all of his grand wealth to his greed and addiction to gambling itself, watching one by one, his casinos see epic losses resulting in his imminent bankruptcy and the end of his empire. After losing everything, his businesses crumble, his fortunes drained, and his assets seized all but his mansion, he took his own life here.
Some time after his suicide, the property was resold and rented out. It fell into miserable living conditions after decades of tenant mistreatment and crowding, having as many as 20 families living in it at one time. It was deemed beyond repair and condemned in the 1970s due to its squalid conditions. After changing hands a number of times, it was finally seized by the Chinese government after the return of Macau in 1999 and opened to the public as a cultural relic, tourist attraction, and center for folk art and traditional heritage as well as art of the region. It’s been heavily refurbished now in an attempt to display its illustrious condition from a time lost when it was the home of the infamous Lu Kau and his family. Despite heavy reconstructions and improvements, it still cannot compare to its fully furnished beginnings, but its refurbished condition does try to maintain some elements of refinement that were once trademark to its luxury – it stands as a testament to Lou Kau and his story.
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The Architectural Features:
The Lou Kau Mansion, a two-story grey brick mansion, is one of a limited number of remaining Xiguan-style mansions remaining in Macau to this day. It is a prime exampled of the fusion of Chinese and Western architectural styles which is unique to the region of Macau. This grand old home depicts the extreme diversity and social profile found in the center of the old “Christian City”. This traditional Chinese residence is found on an alley very near to the Senate Square (Senado Square).
The facade has a recessed entryway which forms an overhanging eave providing shelter during rainy weather, and also protects the intricate frieze relief carvings from the elements of nature. This facades architectural feature is common in homes from the Lingnan region. False ceilings, stained glass Manzhou windows (Manchurian elements from northeast China) and cast iron railings, a western feature often found in the Churches around Macau, are all Western characteristics – a testament to the era’s blending of Portuguese and Chinese cultures in the architecture of the time.
There is a symmetric arrangement to the home, organized in a three-by-three grid of spaces. It’s two courtyards in the central axis separate the homes three major halls – The Entrance Hall, the Tea Hall, and the Senior Hall all on the first floor of the home. This spatial arrangement is demonstrative of the hierarchical structure of Chinese families which culturally hold high reverence to their elders, reserving the living spaces furthest inside the home for senior members of the household, providing more privacy, and keeping them away from the view of guests at their leisure.
The living room of the first story of the mansion is where you’ll find a row of splendidly detailed screens. Behind these screens you’ll find a door baring the inscription “Great Wealth and High Position”. The front-facing windows to the main street are designed in a Portuguese style of the era, the top two are the most intricately designed. These two detailed window panes are embellished with lime sculpture additions and corners wrapped in custom metal decorations.
As you ascend to the second floor of the property, you can take in the view of the halls and courtyards of the mansion as you gaze down at the lower story and the rest of the property. The intricate carved bricks and lime sculptures above the doors of the first floor can be fully studied and appreciated from this height as well. These sculptures are truly a sight to behold and nothing short of breath-taking and beautiful to the finest detail. Lu Huashao himself was certainly a man of fine taste and artistic appreciation as one can easily see examining the intricacy of his choice of decor and refined elegant furnishings of his home in their refurbished state – extreme dedication was put into replicating the home as it once stood at the pique of his fortune and lifestyle before its tragic disintegration.
Here on the second floor guests will find the master bedroom and a living room abound with ancient Chinese furnishings and stylish artistry in every corner of the room – no exception to the rest of the home with its refined taste in decor. Again the upper floor window frames are elaborately carved and detailed with fine patterns of an exceptional level of craftsmanship. Under each window there are wooden boards bearing inscriptions and delicate paintings, each piece a refined work of art . Even the flooring throughout the home is elaborately detailed with intricate patterns and carvings.
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