The Peranakan Museum, Singapore

Although much of our visit back to Singapore was about spending time catching up with old friends and eating we did also have some free time to visit places again and basically be a bit of a tourist. I've always enjoyed visiting museums, something Singapore does very well, though I did always think it a shame that they charged entrance fees just to view the regular exhibits, but going back to one was on my list of things to try and do.

One of the many museums I visited when we lived there, but a long time ago and one my husband had never done was the Peranakan museum on Armenian Street. During my time living in Singapore I not only enjoyed a lot of Peranakan food but also appreciated their beautiful pottery and needlework designs plus the gorgeous colours and designs on many of the shophouses. I thought it all so pretty that before we left I made sure I bought my own little piece of Peranakan inspired pottery as one of many permanent souvenirs of our time in the country. As we had the chance to return to this museum, or in my husband's case, visit for the first time when we were back I decided we just had to go.

In my previous post about all the amazing food we had whilst on holiday, as we always enjoyed Peranakan food we made a point of returning to a restaurant specialising in this cuisine to have some more of this delicious food. This though is only one part of the Peranakan culture and this museum gives the visitor a taste of everything that being Peranakan is about. As I mentioned in that earlier post, and if you know anything about Peranakans already, you are likely aware that the Peranakan Chinese are descended from Chinese immigrants who travelled to Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia and subsequently settled and married the local women. What you may not be so aware of and what this museum also explains is that there are other smaller Peranakan communities both in Singapore and elsewhere in the region. This includes the Indian Hindu Peranakans known as Chitty and the Arab/Indian Muslim Peranakans known as Jawi Pekan and several others besides.

The museum is a treasure trove of everything Peranakan, including sections about their traditional clothing with stunning examples on display, their wedding preparation and all the different ceremonies. The traditional wedding ceremony lasted for twelve days, just one day for my own wedding was stressful enough so I can't imagine what twelve days must have felt like. Other sections also include the Peranakan funeral arrangements and a display on prominent Peranakans in Singapore's history. There are several sections laid out as rooms in a typical Peranakan home would have been with some beautiful wooden furniture and dinner services. Whilst the furniture wouldn't really have worked in our old condo in Singapore I couldn't help but think it would look pretty stunning in the many Georgian properties, with their high ceilings and stunning sash windows, in Edinburgh. There is so much information and so many beautiful displays you just have to visit it for yourself!

Just one example of beautiful Peranakan needlework

As well as the permanent exhibits the museum also runs special exhibitions on aspects of Peranakan life and culture. I recall that the last time I visited I saw a stunning exhibit about the kebayas. The kebaya is the traditional dress of Peranakan women and consists of a blouse and sarong style skirt. Typically these are highly coloured and decorated with intricate and detailed embroidery. If you look at my photo of the outside of the building you'll see that on this visit there was a special exhibit entitled, 'Nonya Needlework: Embroidery and Beadwork in the Peranakan World'. As you can see in the photo above the Peranakan women were certainly incredibly skilled at needlework which is also evident in their home d├ęcor and their clothing, the kebaya being an example of this, even their slippers were beautifully embroidered, looking almost too beautiful to wear. The museum is teeming with examples of this highly skilled craft they had but this exhibit gives you the opportunity to see it and examples from other collections in a little more detail. This display is currently on until the 18 June 2017 so if you're in Singapore or about to head there I recommend you try and catch it. If not I'm pretty sure there will be something equally as interesting for you to see on your visit.

It was lovely to make a return visit to the Peranakan museum once again. It's a really interesting collection of the culture and day to day lives of Peranakans in Singapore and other countries in the region. The museum tends to be a little quieter than some of the others you'll likely be thinking of visiting whilst you're in Singapore which makes it great for being able to take your time over the exhibits rather than being rushed along by crowds. Whilst it may not be first on your radar for things to do in Singapore it definitely needs to be added.

This blog post resulted from an invitation. Thank you to the Peranakan museum, Singapore for the opportunity for a return visit.


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