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THE CHINESE STRAITS or also known as the Baba and Nyonya Peranakans are one of the unique communities that settled in Melaka since the 15th Centuries when a princess during the Chinese Ming Dynasty, Hang Li Poh, arrived in Melaka to be presented to the Sultan.

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It is said that part of her entourage included a few hundreds of youths and women attendants of noble descent to wait for the princess and keep her company in her new home.
They were said to reside in Bukit China and eventually inter-marrying with local Malays that mark the beginning of new generation of mixed Chinese and Malay known as the Peranakan.

The term Peranakan itself derived from Indonesia/Malay word that means “locally born”, that largely used to refer to Peranakan Chinese. However not all Peranakan are of Chinese ancestry. They are also significant community of Peranakan Indians known as Chitty Melaka.
As they were mainly nobles and later merchants from China (that came to the archipelago during the 17th Century), the Chinese Peranakan were normally rich with higher status in the society.

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The intermarriage with the native people engendered a unique culture that combined various traditions and customs especially in food, dressing and language, while retaining some of the Chinese traditions and culture, like religion, name, and festival celebrations they brought from China, thereby creating a new kind of mixed culture of their country of origin with local elements.

This unique blend of culture and traditions also create their own unique palate, where they developed a very strong influence of the spices of Malay cuisine and the famous “sarung kebaya” clothing for the ladies. Most Babas (gentlemen) and Nyonyas (ladies) are trilingual where they can speak fluent Chinese (Hokkien dialect), Malay and English.
This beautiful Peranakan traditions and customs are still preserved here in Melaka and other Straits settlements; Penang and Singapore.

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One beautiful preserved Peranakan house is located at the Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Melaka, a World UNESCO Site, a Dutch styled three terrace lots that were acquired by the Chan family in 1861 where four generations lived in the house before it was turned into The Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum in March 1985.

Stepping inside the beautiful preserved house, one will be awed with the beautiful lavish Blackwood furniture brought from China, inlaid with mother of pearl and marble. A unique set of stairs made of solid local chengal wood, intricately designed with woven gold-leaf carvings, is said to be the first of its kind seen in South East Asia.

The splendour of this beautiful heritage are also evident at the Reception Hall, with panels of Chinese silk embroidery that fits the patriarchal society, where the dignitaries sat and discussed affairs while enjoying the “Dondang Sayang” (love ballads) and “Keroncong” (Javanese ballads) coming from the antique gramophone.

Their wealth is evident in their jewel encrusted costumes, the beautifully embroidered sarung kebaya and shoes which are showcase on the second floor of the museum.

Costumes such as the Baba’s traditional Chinese costume are beautifully embroidered intricately with gold threads while the Nyonya’s kebaya panjang and sarung kebaya, are heavily embroidered Malay style tunic paired with beautiful sarong. They adorned the kebayas with gold or silver ornaments such as kerongsang (broaches), and pendants. The nyonyas also wear beautiful gold or silver hairpins to complete their looks.

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The Baba museum is opened daily from 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm with guided tours available on both sessions. Those who want to book a guided tour can contact the museum at +606-283 1273.

Unfortunately visitors are not allowed to take picture inside the house as despite it is turned into a museum, it is still a private residence.

Address: Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum,48 & 50 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia.Tel : +606-283 1273.Web: www.babanyonyamuseum.com

#melaka #malacca #babanyonya #museum #traipsing #heritagecity #babanyonyamuseum #tour #citytour #history #historicalcity

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