April 25, 2008 / 9:07 AM / 11 years ago

FACTBOX: Five facts about Asia's unique Peranakans

(Reuters Life!) - Crammed with beaded slippers, bright porcelains and marble-inlaid furniture, Singapore’s Peranakan Museum opens on Saturday to showcase the colorful but little-known hybrid Asian culture. Here are five facts about the Peranakans and their culture.

* Peranakans come from different parts of Malaysia, such as Penang and Malacca, as well as coastal areas of Indonesia’s Java and Sumatra islands.

* Many Peranakans have since migrated to different parts of Southeast Asia, including Singapore. Female Peranakans are called ‘nyonyas’ and the men ‘babas’. * A matriarchal society, the head of a Peranakan household is usually the grandmother. Babas were the breadwinners of the family.

* Peranakans were bilingual, speaking English as well as their dialect of Baba Malay, and embraced influences from various religions including Buddhism, Taoism, ancestral worship and Christianity.

* In the nineteenth century Peranakans sent their children to convent schools instead of Chinese schools to learn English, unlike most children of that time. As a result, Peranakan culture absorbed European influences and some converted to Christianity.

Writing by Melanie Lee; Editing by Gillian Murdoch

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