January 29, 2023

Malacca Trademark Staircase

A hundred years old Melaka house.

In Malaysia, if you talk about ‘Tangga Melaka’ or Malacca Staircase everybody will know the decorative tile from China stick to a wide outside staircase. In other Malaysian state, old Malay traditional houses will have a wooden staircase and all part of the house is made by wood. For Melaka traditional house, the main front staircase is made from brick. For your info, traditional Malay houses are build higher than the ground, not at the ground. It use pillars made from logs to stand the house up. The height is like a double storey house just no room below with pillars to support the building.

What specials about Malacca staircase are the strong brick and decorative tile imported from China. Tile are arranged creatively by the craftsmen and the more tile at the staircase represent the house owner wealth. This is because at that time tiles are imported from China and it is expensive.

Melaka staircase build with odd number of steps. The philosophy behind it is odd number represent perfection and a perfection is only for God. Odd number of the step telling that human as a God servant is weak and not perfect. Usually they will build staircase with 3,5 and 7 steps. the highest number of steps found in Melaka house are 9. Normal house will be no higher that 9 step except maybe for mosque or Sultans palace. 7 is favorite number of steps found in many houses. Number 7 means 7 layer of sky, 7 layer of earth, 7 days and other things related to cosmos.

At present house with brick staircase in Melaka are old house age around 100 to 200 years old. No new house built with this kind of design anymore. The existing are gazetted as heritage by state government and has been restored with the heritage fund.

Melaka Trademark staircase with traditional house.

9 Step Melaka staircase.

Old Melaka house usually bring childhood memory becasue nowadays we live in modern houses.


Hi, I'am Asmaliana, I work at Tourism Melaka. I love my state, Melaka, the world heritage city by UNESCO.

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9 thoughts on “Malacca Trademark Staircase

  1. Dear Asmaliana,
    Your essay on “Tangga Melaka” was indeed informative and an eye-opener ! As an “anak Melaka” I always
    took for granted that stairs of Malay homes were constructed as such ! Little did I know that this feature
    is unique to houses in Melaka only ! How true…learning is a life long process !

  2. I think the feature that unique to Melaka only other than the Melaka Staircase is Old Melaka Mosque Roof Top. Like old Mosque at Tengkera of the State Mosque itslef (Masjid Al-Azim). The Chinese Pagoda influence roof top same as the Chinese tile influence staircase. But I think the design (staircase) is not more than 200 years old. My opinion only.

  3. It is always good to have some features in our Malaccan buildings that are
    distinguishable from the rest of them in the Peninsula. This is what we can
    really claim as a historical legacy ! Melaka is afterall a living and breathing
    history book and we anak Melaka and the government (both local and Federal)
    must go all out to preserve what little is left for our younger generations
    and tourists to appreciate that our state was and is still a truly melting pot
    of cultures and races !Maybe some diehard Malaccans should produce a textbook
    or two re the state’s inheritances and with the co-operation of the Education
    Department make it a MUST read for all MELAKA school students !

  4. Salam Dik!

    Are you in Melaka? Kat mana nak cari tiles design untuk tangga Melaka tu? I’ve bought a few in Turkey a few years ago, tapi my contractor dah rosakkan – dah tak jadi tangga Melaka rumah Akak. Rumah pun belum siap ni, nak repair tangga tu, tapi mana nak cari tiles yang ada design macam tangga-tangga di Melaka tu.

    Kalau ada, Akak boleh pergi Melaka beli. Terima kasih!

  5. Yeee Kak tiles mcm tu dah jadi antik kaaak..rasanya susah nak dapat lagi,. Orang dulu2 pun import. Tapi kalau saya dapt info saya bagi tau akak…

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