Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Baba and Nyonya Culture

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HISTORY OF BABA & NYONYA Peranakan and Baba Nyonya in chinese (???? / baba niang re) are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Nusantara region during the Colonial era. In both Malay and Indonesian, ‘Peranakan’ is defined as ‘descendant’ with no connotation of the ethnicity of descent unless followed by a subsequent qualifying noun, such as for example Cina (Chinese), Belanda(Dutch) or Jepang/Jepun (Japanese). Baba is a Persian loan-word borrowed by Malaysian as an honorific solely for grandparents; it was used to refer to the Straits-Chinese males.

Female Straits-Chinese descendants were either called or styled themselves Nyonyas. The word nyonya (also commonly misspelled nonya) is a Javanese loan honorific word from Italian Nona (grandma) meaning: foreign married Madam. Language The language of the Peranakans, Baba Malay (Bahasa Melayu Baba), is a creole dialect of the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu), which contains many Hokkien words. It is a dying language, and its contemporary use is mainly limited to members of the older generation. Culture 1. Clothing

The Nyonya’s clothing was identical to that of the native Malay’s: baju panjang (long dress), batik sarung (batik wrap-around skirt) and kerongsang (brooch). Beaded slippers called Kasut Manek were a hand-made made with much skill and patience: strung, beaded and sewn onto canvas with tiny faceted glass beads from Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic). 2. Religion Baba Nyonya subscribed to Chinese beliefs: Taoism, Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism, celebrated the Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival, while adopting the customs of the land they settled in, as well as those of their colonial rulers.

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There are traces of Portuguese, Dutch, British, Malay and Indonesian influences in Baba culture. A certain number of Baba Nonya families were and still are, Catholic. 3. Food From the Malay influence a unique ”Nyonya” cuisine has developed using typical Malay spices. Examples are Chicken Kapitan, a dry chicken curry, and Inchi Kabin, a Nyonya version of fried chicken.. Swikee Purwodadi is a peranakan dish from Purwodadi, it is a frog soup dish. INTRODUCTION TO BABA & NYONYA WEDDING The wedding ceremony of the Peranakan is largely based on Chinese tradition, and is one of the most colourful wedding ceremonies in Malaysia and Singapore.

The traditional Peranakan wedding is a 12-day affair which is usually carried out in the bride's house, where ceremonies like the Lap Chai (exchange of gifts) and Cheo Thau (coming of age) are carried out. The Cheo Thau ceremony is one of the most important ceremonies and marks the first occasion when the bride and bridegroom will wear their authentic wedding robes. The actual wedding ceremony will only take place before noon that day, after the Cheo Thau ceremony. Next, follows the Chim Pang ceremony which marks the first meeting between the couple where the bride would lead the groom into the bridal chamber where he would unveil her.

Together they would be served tea and a bowl of kueh ee – small white and red dumplings in a sweet broth. The third ceremony takes place in the bridal chamber. This is called Chia Sia. This ceremony is amusing and unique because friends and guests of the bridegroom would gather in the room and tease the bride with the hope of inducing laughter from the bride. The finale of the wedding ceremony, would be the "dua belas hari" or Twelfth Day ceremony, where the marriage would be confirmed and approved by proof of the bride's virginity.

Firstly, the bride's parents would invite the bridegroom's mother to inspect a handkerchief (known as aBim Poh) collected from the wedding bed. The handkerchief will be placed on a tray and presented to the bridegroom's mother for inspection, where she would be invited to perform a test by squeezing lime juice on the handkerchief in hope of ascertaining the authencity of the stain. Exchanging of gifts between both the family. Gorgeous hand embroidered beaded shoes (kasut manik)

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