Peranakan exhibition portrays cultural melting pot
Posted : 2013-03-27 17:01
Updated : 2013-03-27 17:01
"Chupu," or traditional Peranakan jar with butterfly patterns
The region around the islands of Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula has been a gateway connecting the East and West for a long time. This also gave birth to a unique and colorful culture.
The National Museum of Korea is currently hosting an exhibition on the culture and heritage of the "Peranakans,'' or descendents of Chinese, Indian and Southeast Asian immigrants now representing the mainstream culture of Singapore.
The program, titled "The Peranakan World: Cross-cultural Art from Singapore and the Straits," enabled through assistance from Singapore's National Heritage Board and the Asian Civilizations Museum, displays some 230 artifacts, mainly dating from the 19th to early 20th century. The exhibition has five different parts, with the entrance of the hall decorated with the formal attire and accessories used in traditional Peranakan wedding ceremonies.
Traditional Peranakan wedding garment / Courtesy of National Museum of Korea
"Because the wedding is a mixture of all the cultures like costumes, accessories, furniture and foods, exhibiting the traditional wedding ceremony accounts for the most important part to inform cultural heritage of Peranakan," said Alan Chong, the director of the Asian Civilizations Museum. Chong added that Peranakan-style weddings are quickly disappearing in Singapore.
"Most young people in Singapore hold their wedding ceremony in a western style. And we are trying to revive our traditional culture, promoting this kind of event,'' he said.
The traditional Peranakan wedding ceremony, which typically continues for 12 days, is influenced most by Chinese culture. Pink-colored wedding garments for the bride and brown-colored wedding robes for the groom are embroidered in traditional Chinese patterns such as a phoenix, peony blossom or butterfly.
The exhibition also displays clothing made from traditional Peranakan textile, "nyonya,'' which is rooted in Malay culture. The Perankan ''sarong'' skirts and "kebaya'' tops are still worn by Singapore women on special occasions.
The handcraft work displayed at the museum is stunning. The tableware and the porcelain, which are called "kamcheng" and "chupu,'' is detailed with phoenix and dragon decorations and colored lavishly in red and gold.
"This exhibition is projected to show the cultural diversity of South East Asia through Peranakan cultures, and we want to make our culture known to the world through this chance. We are also planning to exhibit Korean traditional cultures like celadon and paintings of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) in Singapore within the next two years," Chong said.
The exhibition will go through May 19, and admission is free. The museum is located near exit 4 of Ichon Station, subway line 4 and the Jungang Line. For more information, call (02) 2077-9000 or visit www.museum.go.kr.