I was elated to receive an invite from The Peranakan Association for the Big Baba Blogout at the Peranakan Museum. The Peranakan Association which was formed in 1900 and celebrates its 109th anniversary this year.
As part of the Peranakan Festival , The Peranakan Association will play host of the Baba Convention to be held in Singapore where some 150 delegates from around the region will gather from the 27th Nov - 6th Dec 2009. Immerse yourself in the rich Peranakan Cultural and Heritage. Besides Baba Convention, Babazaar, Bedrooms, Baba Art, Peranakan Trails, Food Extravaganza, Heirloom sale, there is PeRun!akan, a part online/offline games for the public to learn more about the Peranakan Heritage and Big Baba Blogout by bloggers to explore the Peranakan culture and share their experience.
The Peranakan Museum was housed at 39 Armenian street in the early 20th century Peranakan funded Tao Nan school and located at the museum district in Singapore.
- Uniquely Singapore, the Peranakan Museum presents a Southeast Asian-wide view of Peranakan culture featuring 10 gallery displaying the the world’s most comprehensive and the largest grouping of Peranakan cultural and heritage collection
- Peranakan artifacts – jewelry, silver, clothing, beadwork, furniture, textiles and crockery galore comes to live by interactive and multi-media stations and coupled with educational interactive for the young (sponsored by JP Morgan), painting a vivid picture of the rich Peranakan heritage culture and lifestyle.
- It is a museum featuring an enriching living culture ! Absolutely brilliant and unique.
Although my grandparents and my father are Peranakan from Jakarta and Malacca, i wasn't brought up the traditional Peranakan way as my grandparents passed away at an early stage . The only traditional Peranakan traces were the little touches like carved teak furniture, some beautiful trinkets, kerosong, embroidery handkerchiefs left by my grandma, tingkat carriers and delicious Peranakan food like ayam buah keluak , ayam Kapitan , beef rendang, itek tim and Nyonya deserts like burbur terigu, gula melaka and kueh tea and my dad’s specialty, Nyonya Kaya. My father is a good cook but being a Professor, he didn't have time to cook the Peranakan food that often. As a child, i would look forward to school holidays so that i could have yummy Peranakan food.
My first visit to the Peranakan Museum was in July this year to attend The Art of Peranakan Dining Seminar High Tea. It was very interesting to learn more about the Peranakan Culture and Peranakan Food from the true blue Peranakans like Mr. Peter Wee, First Vice President of the Peranakan Association, Ms Violet Oon, the renowned Nyonya celebrity cook and Mr. Randell Ee, curator of the Peranakan Museum.
It was a great Peranakan evening during my second visit to the Peranakan Museum as I first attended BeBe Seet’s Peranakan Beadwork My Heritage Book Launch then Big BaBa Blog-out . The Peranakan Beadwork My Heritage is a 228 page volume on Peranakan Beadwork and it was interesting to see view live demonstration of Peranakan Beadworks. I like G.T. Lye kerongsong very much, its such an intricating piece of art.
Peranakans ~ The History (Gallery 1 on Level 1)
- The Malay term 'Peranakan' which means 'locally born' is used to refer not only to the Peranakan Chinese but also other Peranakan communities that developed in Southeast Asia like the Chitty Melaka and Jawi Peranakans.
- Commonly known as Baba (Gentlemen) an Nyonyas (Ladies) are the descendants of late 15th and 16th century Chinese immigrants to the Straits Settlement and most are of Hokkien ancestry who shared heritage of hybrid Chinese and Malay culture.
- These Straits Chinese were generally traders and were wealthy and were a comprador class under the British colonialists.
- The Peranakan held Chinese customs, but were influenced by the Malay culture most notably in language and cuisine. It is this shared heritage and common ethnicity that bound the Straits Chinese together as a social group who continued to flourish.
Presenting My favourite Cultural GalleriesPeranakan Textile and Beadworks ~ Gallery 6 (Level 3)
The Nyonya's clothing resembles kebaya or baju panjang (long dress), batik sarung (batik wrap-around skirt) and kerongsang (brooch). Paired with Kasut Manek (beaded slippers) where tiny faceted glass beads from bohemia were skillfully sewn onto canvas slippers or flats. Traditional kasut manek design often have European floral subjects, with colors influenced mostly by Peranakan porcelain, batik sarongs. roses , phoenixs and auspicious symbols of fertility, wealth, happiness and longevity,.
The Nyonya were trained from young for marriage life and Peranakan beadworks are a must and know how and are passed through mother to daughters in general.
Beadwork decorative table clothes with birds and flowers sewn which symbolized fertility are traditionally used for Peranakan wedding
Peranakan Wedding ~ Galleries 2 – 5 (Level 2)
The Peranakan wedding is such a glamorous event that at the peranakn museum, there are 4 galleries dedicated to the traditional 12 day peranakn wedding. Due to the hectic lifestyle now, i don't think many people will be able to take 12 days leave for the traditional Peranakan Wedding.
The wedding ceremony of the Peranakan is largely based on Chinese tradition, and is one of the most colorful wedding ceremonies in Malaysia and Singapore.
Significant ceremonies like lap chai (exchange of gifts) and chiu thau (coming of age) are presented and rituals takes place.
- At weddings, the Dondang Sayang, a form of extempore rhyming song in Malay sung and danced by guests at the wedding party, was a highlight. Someone would begin a romantic theme which was carried on by others, each taking the floor in turn, dancing in slow gyrations as they sang. It required quick wit and repartee and often gave rise to laughter and applause when a particularly clever phrase was sung. The melodic accents of the Baba-Nonya and their particular turns of phrase lend to the charm of this performance
The interactive Wedding Portrait for children to explore and understand better
The Peranakan Wedding Setting
Lap Chai Ceremony also known as the exchange of gifts as seen in a typical setting as above in Thia Besar (Big Hall). Its like our modern day living room where we entertain our guests.
The Bakul Siah , known as the lucky basket is very important to the Peranakan in the 12 day Peranakan wedding . During the wedding, the wealthy family will use the exquistely beaded Yong Chuan bamboo basket to hold the precious jewellery and items for gift exchange , The items contained in the basket includes silky clothing, expensive jewelry and auspicious items like tangerine.
The Pagoda Tray was commissioned by Magenta Cottage for the Peranakan Wedding and is used to hold expensive gift like precious jewellery. Very wealthy family likes to custom make items and send it to their in laws for gift exchange.
The wedding gifts includes pig leg, auspicious fruits, Wang tetek( betrothal ang pow), jewellery and silk clothings. The value of the gifts may not necessary be very high, but it definitely must be auspicious items. The items below are the gifts prepared by the bridegroom to the bride . Doesn't the jewellery and silk clothing look stunning ?
The lap chai ceremony is still being practiced by Peranakan families today but rarely on the scale of the very wealthy Peranakan in the past.
Du Lang Tek Pai are used in Peranakan Wedding as decorative table cloth.
More items for the lap chai ceremony . Gosh its so elaborate ! These are the gifts prepared by the bride for the bridegroom.
Setting for the wedding.
The Peranakan Wedding bed
A few days before the actual wedding, a young boy who comes from a family of many sons, would roll three times across the wedding bed for good luck and early male offspring for the newly wed couple. An elaborate design for the wedding bed with carved dragons, phoenixs, flowers and other auspicious motifs.
The items used on the 12th day of the Peranakan Wedding
The Peranakan Wedding Procession
Do watch the video that shows the preparation and procession of a Peranakan wedding by the The Peranakan Association
Peranakan Dining ~ Gallery 9 (Level 3)
Peranakan Food and and feasting in the Peranakan culture are orchestrated with a grand banquet setting, and the world’s best collection of Nyonya porcelain.
Tok Panjang means a long table for banquet where special celebration takes place and traditional kitchenware are used. Richly decorated with European-styled teak furniture, Victorian ceramic figures and glass epergnes, affluent Baba households even have a separate western-styled dining room meant for entertaining peers and European guests. The dinner service includes porcelain, glass and silverware imported from Europe.
An interesting fact is that while traditionally, Peranakans are of Taoist, Buddhist belief but with the colonial influences and marriage, its a common sight to see a Chinese alter with Taoist cravings and the Holy family. This exquisite Catholic altar is one of the few surviving altar-sideboards and is probably one of the largest in gilded teak style.
Peranakan Influence on architectural buildings
There is so much to see and learn about the Peranakan Culture and Heritage, Thank you so much for the invite .I enjoyed myself tremendously and it was indeed an enriching and rewarding heritage evening .
The Peranakan Museum Opening hours are from 1 to 7pm (Mondays), 9.30am to 7pm (Tuesdays to Sundays). Call 6332-7591 or visit www.peranakanmuseum.sg . Do visit the Peranakan Museum for an ultimate Pure Peranakan experience to soak in the Peranakan Culture and atmosphere.