Altar sideboard


Singapore, 1928
Gilded teak, 332.5 x 186 x 71.5 cm
2005-01479, Purchased with funds from Friends of ACM through Gala Dinner 2005

This is a rare example of a sideboard that was used by a Peranakan Chinese family in Singapore as a domestic altar. What makes it unusual is the painting of the Christian Holy Family – Christ and his parents, Mary and Joseph – installed at the centre. The owners had converted from traditional Daoist deity and ancestor worship to Roman Catholicism. The altar, which bears typical Daoist motifs such as dragons, qilin, phoenixes, and the Three Star Gods of good fortune, prosperity, and longevity (Hock, Lock, Siew) on the crown, was purchased in the 1920s.

This object is part of the story of the spread of Christianity in Singapore and the conversion of Peranakan Chinese from the early 20th century onwards. Many contributed to the development of early churches in Singapore.