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Friday, 24 October 2008
(Photos have been uploaded with permission from ACM)
October 20th was excellent! Prof. Caroline had organized a trip to the Peranakan Museum and some of us took this opportunity to learn more about a culture that seems to keep on appearing in popular texts but yet, we still can't quite figure out what exactly is "Peranakan." And indeed, after the trip, we now have a better understanding of this rather interesting culture.
We spent about an hour touring the musuem, exploring the galleries. We discovered how their weddings are celebrated and how their funeral sessions are observed. Besides key events, we also learnt about their everyday lives. We got to know the type of clothes they wear and the kuehs that they eat. Some of us also evesdropped on their gossipping session over the telephone!
After the whole hour of touring, we were given a lecture by the curator. And it was then that we discovered there were actually three major Peranakan groups. Namely, the Chinese Peranakan, the Chetti Peranakan and the Jawi Peranakan. The Chinese Peranakans make up the majority of the Peranakan population and that the exhibitions in the Peranakan Museum itself was mainly on the Chinese Peranakans.
The curator who was also a Peranakan himself, commented that the degree to which a person may identify themself as a Peranakan very much depends on the family's own interest in practicing the Peranakan culture - the unique clothes, the conversing in Baba Malay and so on. Some may persistently pursue such a culture while others do not. In sum, the Peranakans today are not really a homogenous group and their culture as the curator would point out, is one that is constantly evolving.