Exhibition: “Great Peranakans: Fifty Remarkable Lives” | Singapore

Great Peranakans - large

The exhibition “Great Peranakans: Fifty Remarkable Lives” can be visited at the Peranakan Museum, Singapore, an ASEMUS member, between 23 May 2015 and 3 April 2016.

The exhibition celebrates the achievements of 50 men and women who have shaped Singaporean life and culture over the past two centuries. These pioneers made important contributions in art, culture, education, business, governance, and public service. Collectively, their stories and the more than 100 objects from their lives invite greater contemplation of evolving Peranakan and Singaporean identities.

The Malay word Peranakan usually refers to the creolized Chinese who lived in island Southeast Asia. Peranakans generally trace their roots to early Chinese immigrants who married indigenous women from the Malay Archipelago. Baba and nyonya are terms for Peranakan men and women respectively. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Straits Chinese was often used for Peranakans and Chinese who had lived in the region for many generations. The term connected the community to the Straits Settlements colony encompassing Penang, Malacca, and Singapore.

In the 20th century, many Peranakans lost fluency in Chinese, but they supported Chinese schools and newspapers. Some Peranakans converted to Christianity, while others like Lim Boon Keng rediscovered Confucianism. This multiplicity was often dismissed as conflicted or contradictory, but such combinations are now familiar in the modern world. Peranakans have played significant roles across the political spectrum in building today’s Singapore.

For additional information about “Great Peranakans”, please visit http://www.peranakanmuseum.org.sg/TPMPortal/faces/oracle/webcenter/portalapp/pagehierarchy/Page1.jspx?detContId=NHBSVRAPP61620000048444

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