Peranakan Museum

I haven't been anywhere new by myself for a while but recently I decided to make a visit to the Peranakan museum.

Before I visited I had been of the impression that the term Peranakan only referred to the Peranakan Chinese.  However I now know there are Peranakan groups across South East Asia and that the term can apply to other communities such as the Jawi Peranakan (Indian Muslim) and the Chitty Melaka (Indian).  Peranakan is the term used to refer to people of mixed ethnic origins.  South East Asia being an important crossroads for trade meant that traders came from other countries some of these married local women and the Peranakan culture was born.

The museum explores this culture and their traditions and has on display traditionally crafted clothing, antique furniture and porcelain amongst other things which all feature the Peranakan designs.  I was particularly interested in going as where I live in Singapore is an area which has been heavily influenced by the Peranakan community previously and this can still be seen in the buildings around there.

One of the most interesting parts for me was the gallery about the Peranakan wedding traditions.  The marriage ceremony lasted for twelve days and involved both families exchanging gifts with special significance for the marriage and performing a number of rituals during the process.  As well as this the museum also looked at the importance of the women or Nonya in the families, their religious beliefs, their involvement in public life and of course their food.

Peranakan culture has been enjoying a renaissance here in Singapore and is recognised as an important part of Singapore's heritage.  As I walked around I could instantly think of links to this culture that I'd witnessed firsthand.  Firstly in the uniforms of the air stewardesses on Singapore Airlines which are based on the traditional sarong kebaya worn by the Nonya's.  Secondly as I read about their traditional dishes that I had eaten food of this style or at least based upon this since moving here and that I was aware of restaurants in Singapore that serve Peranakan food or dishes based upon this.

Peranakan style decorated shophouses not far from our condo

It was a really interesting morning and somewhere I'd definitely recommend for a visit if you are interested in finding out a bit more about the local culture.


Popular Posts