25 January 2013: “Straits Chinese House”

“Their house can be said to symbolise [the Straits Chinese] vibrancy of culture and heritage. It is the setting in which Straits Chinese art, ritual and tradition are most clearly expressed.”

Having firmly established themselves in the Malay archipelago as early as the seventeenth century, the Straits Chinese, also known as Baba Nyonya or Peranakan Chinese, rose to prominence in the region and developed a complex and fascinating material culture. With many Peranakan men involving themselves in maritime trade, the Straits Chinese flourished in the region’s historic port cities of Penang, Melaka and Singapore. The Straits Chinese House shows how they adapted successfully to their environment while remaining true to their historical identity: arranging their homes in accordance with their Chinese roots, with the inclusion of ancestral altars and typical Chinese wedding chambers, but decorating them with an eclectic blend of furnishings corresponding to the influences provided by Dutch, Portuguese and British settlers in the area.

Exploring the traditions of a few Straits Chinese families and explaining the culture through the rooms in which they resided,The Straits Chinese House depicts the wonderfully diverse culture of the Peranakan in breathtaking photographs and detailed prose. The stories of how these families gained their wealth are truly remarkable, but equally fascinating are the ways in which they portrayed their successes, their lavish way of life manifested in the creation of some of Southeast Asia’s most exceptional households. The residences depicted in this elegant book exemplify the community’s incredible flair for evolving new lifestyles that integrate both indigenous and foreign elements into its cultural vocabulary.

The Straits Chinese House is on sale for RM 95. Please click here for more information, or to purchase.