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I'd first like to clarify that my interest to visit the Singapore Peranakan Museum at Armenian Street has nothing to do with the hit drama series, "The Little Nonya" which ended its run last December. For the record, I watched at max - 2 episodes.

I've been meaning to visit the museum for the longest time since it's opening nearly a year back. A large part of it is simply because I AM PERANAKAN! Simply put, 'Peranakan' means "child" or 'born of" and is used to refer to people of mixed ethnic origins. Though I have been largely "Catonised" (slang for being overly Cantonese) by my mom's side of the influence, I've always have a secret love for my origins and roots... and food.

When James asked for suggestions to bring a friend from Chongqing out, I promptly suggested the Peranakan Museum.

Despite the heavy downpour on Saturday afternoon (or what I like to call - perfect weather for museum visiting), we made it in time for a guided tour. Which was wonderful as the guide presented many fascinating insights to the exhibits.

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Level One - Discover the origins of the Peranakans through a video showcase and a series of photographs featuring real life Peranakans of today. The most famous of which will be singer/entertainer, Dick Lee

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Level Two is entirely dedicated to the Peranakan Wedding. Be awed by the detail put into the wedding garment to wedding procession; the bridal bedroom and ornate carvings on the Ranjang Kahwain (Wedding Bed). A typical Peranakan Wedding takes 12 days!

In the photo above of a traditional wedding tea ceremony setting are portraits of true Peranakan couple, Neo Swee Lin and Lim Kay Siu. At the strike of the hour, the still image becomes a video conversion. Very intelligently displayed.

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The traditional Peranakan kitchen can be found on Level Three. Food and feasting is another big thing in the life of a Peranakan

A little surprise find and a little known ancestry heritage of mine found at the 3rd floor of the museum. An enclosed glass room featured a lavish dinner setting of exquisite pink dinning ware. The bowls and plates were unique as both top and bottom surfaces were painstakingly designed. The Peranakan dinning ware were donated by the family of Yap Ah Loy (14 March 1837 - 15 April 1885), founder of Kuala Lumpur. In the background hung the portraits of the late couple.

The little known fact is that Yap Ah Loy was actually my paternal grandmother's great grandfather. Which makes him my great, great, great grandfather!

According to my father, Yap Ah Loy was the 1st commercial merchant ship captain who sailed to Nanyang (South East Asia). However, in Wikipedia; he was known as a Kapitan. Kapitans played an important role in the history of the Chinese in Indonesia and Malaysia. They wielded considerable influence, contributing to social, economic and political development in areas under their jurisdiction.

His contributions included:
* Founder of Kuala Lumpur
* Built the Sze Si Yeah Temple
* Introduced the first steam pump into Malaya
* Kept peace among the 10,000 Chinese in town with the aid of only 6 policemen
* He founded the first Chinese school in Kuala Lumpur, in 1884

I will never look at KL in the same light.

Quickly after a glimpse of the Peranakan Museum, we decided to join yet another tour for the Qingzhou Discovery "Serenity In Stone" special exhibit. The Museum deserves another visit to sit through the videos and to soak in the intricate details of all the handiwork.

More Peranakan Museum Pictures


  1. You shld call yourself Nyonya Nat :)

  2. may i ask what is the meaning of the chinese characters on the plates and bowls ?
    thank you very much

  3. Hi there, which plate are you referring to specifically?

  4. thanks for answering ,
    there are some plates with the word ' fu ' - happiness ,
    there are many other plates and bowls with 4 characters in the centre - i can make out 2 of them -
    1 of them is ' yi ' - integrity ,
    another looks like ' ti ' - brother ,
    but the other 2 is quite hard to decipher ,
    thanks again - look forward to your answer ,

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