Enter the world of the Peranakans

Southeast Asia has been a crossroads for trade since ancient times. Prevailing winds brought traders from distant lands to Southeast Asia. Some of these traders put down roots and married local women. Their descendants are the ancestors of the Peranakans.

The Peranakan Museum showcases the world's finest and most comprehensive collection displayed in 9 galleries. Step into them and immerse yourself in this unique Southeast Asian culture.

gallery1_origin_img In Malay, "Peranakan" means "child of" or "born of" and is used to refer to people of mixed ethnic origins. Chinese Peranakans are the majority, but there are also Peranakan communities of other ethnicities in Southeast Asia, including Arab, Indian, and Eurasian.

gallery2-5_weddings_imgExplore the many rituals of the traditional Peranakan wedding in these galleries. Learn about the coming of age (Chiu Thau) and exchange of gifts (Lap Chai) ceremonies, and peek inside the wedding chamber. Our extensive collection of Peranakan beadwork - an essential element of the wedding - is displayed here.

gallery6_language_and_fashion_imgThe language and dress of Peranakans were influenced by life in Southeast Asia. Learn about their language - Baba Malay - through our displays, and listen to recordings. Observe how the silhouette of the sarong kebaya, the nyonya’s attire of choice, changed over time with shifting notions of fashion and femininity.

gallery7_religion_imgTraditionally, Peranakans embraced a mixture of Daoism, Buddhism, ancestor worship, and folk beliefs. Theys ought to gain the favour of and pacify spirits through rites and offerings. Death rituals and mourning were especially important to show respect for ancestors.

gallery8_public_life_imgMany Peranakans played a prominent role in commerce, politics and social affairs in 19th and 20th-century Southeast Asia. Singapore pioneer Tan Kim Seng and former Cabinet Minister Lim Kim San are just two of the many Peranakans who became cultural and philanthropic leaders in Singapore.

gallery9_food_and_feasting_imgYour experience cannot be complete without an exploration of the food and dining customs of the Peranakans. Learn about colourful nyonyaware porcelain, used to serve delicious dishes blending Chinese, Malay, Indian, Thai, European, and Indonesian ingredients and methods. On the hour, watch a Peranakan kitchen come to life in our special video.