MUCH has been propagated about the Straits Chinese or Peranakan, who have been fondly called “Baba (men) and Nyonya” (women).
The off-springs of inter-marriages with the locals, they have prospered though many retained the characteristics of their Chinese origins.
Melding elements of the Chinese and Malay culture, there evolved a Baba Nyonya culture that is intrinsically their own.
From food to fashion and culture, the “Baba and Nyonya” community has captured the imagination of the younger generation as people of rich culture and heritage.
Their history will again be highlighted as living treasures during the 5th anniversary celebration of the UNESCO declaration of Melaka and George Town as World Heritage Site in July.
To have a good ‘look and feel’ of the rich culture of Straits Chinese, visit the Baba & Nyonya House Museum at Heeren Street in the Melaka heritage enclave.
One of the museum’s founders is William Chan, a fourth generation of the community, and a successful travel operator.
It was Chan who established the museum with his family in 1985, long before Melaka started branding itself as a touristy state.
Chan’s foresight has seen the museum growing into one of the must-see attractions. Inside, visitors would be awe struck to discover how Chan’s great grandfather lived together with his spouse, children and grandchildren.
This museum is a combination of three heritage trading houses and its furnishings and furniture are sights to behold. There are intricate embroidery frames and Italian marble tops with an exotic looking staircase.
Another insight into the world of “Baba and Nyonya” is the master bedroom with a typical peep hole on the floor board that looks down to the main entrance to check out the identity of visitors and servant quarters.
The museum operates from 10am until 1pm, 2pm until 4:30pm daily, and there are 45-minute guided tours on offer.
For details, call 06-2831273.