Peranakhan Cultural Lights 

Our lights showcase the rich heritage of Peranakans (Pe-rah-na-khan), a community unique to the South East Asian region of the world.

Peranankan Babas and Nonyas (men and women) are descendants of early Chinese migrant men who inter-married with local Malay women in the 15th and 16th century in the Indonesian archipelago of Nusantara, present day Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

The result is a fascinating fusion of Malay and Chinese cultures, complemented by borrowed influences from the Dutch, Portuguese, British, Thai and Indians.

From furniture, to beadwork and embroidery, to jewelery and silverware, the nyonyas and babas of the not-too-distant past decorated their lives to such levels of luxury and extravagance, it is almost unthinkable, put in today’s context. This royalty-like lavishness is perpetuated in everything that they ate and used.

  • The decline of the Peranakan community coincided with the period of World Ward II, especially during the Japanese Occupation (1942-45) in Malaya and Singapore. Today, there is the question of the future of Peranakan language and culture. Modernisation and rapid urbanisation, westernisation and the erosion of identity through inter-marriage with non-Peranakan all pose threats to its continued existence. There is a great deal of nostalgia and regret for that is perceived as a beautiful but dying culture and a rich, incomparable language.

  • As a result, there has been in recent years - especially from the 1980s - a revival of interest in the Peranakan community and its language has started. This is done through exhibitions, inspiring drama productions in Baba Malay and the restoration of Peranakan architecture.

The lights here represent the colours, the motif and the gentleness that is associated with this culture.