Wedding beds (Ranjang kahwain)


Malacca, late 19th or early 20th century
Gilded wood, 247 x 239 x 87.5 cm; 235 x 230 x 147.8 cm
2011-01741, 2011-01742

These two beds are ornately carved with fertility symbols and auspicious motifs, including phoenixes, peonies, and the Daoist Eight Immortals. During the wedding, the beds would be decorated with matching sets of embroidered textiles. The auspicious designs on the bed textiles conveyed blessings and wishes for the wedding couple, such as having many sons. In Singapore and Malacca, Peranakan Chinese families had two beds for the wedding – one single and one double – usually of matching design.

These beds and their complete set of textiles belonged to the family of Sharron Chee Guek Kee (11th-generation Peranakan in Singapore and Malacca), and were used for at least five weddings. The Chee family is one of the oldest documented Peranakan families in Malacca.