Culture and Social Changes of the Baba Nyonya Community in Malacca, Malaysia
Culture and Social Changes of theBaba Nyonya Communityin MalaccaGroup members:– Yu Tieng Wei– Muhammad Zainuddin– Chuah Pei Jin– Kek Kok Wah– Petra LeongDate of submission :11/29/2012
• Malaysia is a multicultural society with rich culturalheritage• Baba Nyonya intermarriage of Chinese people from chinawith the native people in Peninsula Malaysia• situated around Malacca, Singapore and Penang.• By the middle of the 20th century, most Peranakan wereEnglish educated.INTRODUCTION
Issue• Misunderstanding or perspective toward BabaNyonya culture.• Lack of research and publication of culturalproducts.• Large portions of invaluable cultural heritage arefast deteriorating due to poor maintenance andpreservation practices.
Objectives• To understand the social and culture Baba-Nyonyaethnic.• To identify the achievement and development ofBaba-Nyonya ethnic.• To identify the popular misperceptions of Baba-Nyonya.
• The important to study misunderstand of people towardBaba-Nyonya ethnic is to understand the importance ofpreserving the Baba-Nyonya culture among theMalaysian communities and helps in clarify theintercultural misperception on Baba-Nyonya ethnic.• The Baba-Nyonya is a unique community and culturalphenomenon that occurred in an era of momentoustransition. They are rich with the cultural heritage;cuisine, fashion and arts. Their belief and societystructural are originated mixture of the Chinese andMalay.• “The Babas may be one of the most talked aboutcommunities in Malaysia, but it is also one of the mostmisunderstood “(Tan, 1988).
Origin of Baba NyonyaGeneral public perception:• Chinese immigrants married Malay people duringthe colonial era• The Chinese workers that came to the Indonesianarchipelago of Nusantara were mostly man, so theymarried the local Malay woman.Correct, but…….
Extras:“People usually thought that inter-cultural relationship ofBaba Nyonya was only forged between overseasChinese and local Malays or vice versa. In fact, theintermarriage happen with the Indonesians, Thais andBurmese too. Just like my grandparents. That is why we(the peranakan) wear sarong, because the culture ofwearing sarong is shared among all of us. The BabaNyonya culture was actually started with the historicalmoment, when Sultan Mansur Shah get married with theMing Princess Hang Li Poh. Later that, many Chineseforeigners had been brought into Malacca, and so theyrooted themselves with the local Malays, hence BabaNyonya are formed, and a new culture was generated,where people nowadays recognized Baba Nyonya ispeople who have Chinese traditions and blend with thelocal Malay culture.” (Sheryl, 48, Female)
Differences between Baba Nyonyaof different region….General public perception:“Frankly speaking, I thought they are all the same. Ihave no idea about the differences between Baba& Nyonya in Melaka, Penang & Singapore.”(Houmaid, 23, Male)“I think that is that same community. I have no ideaabout the differences between them. Am I right?”(Shing, 25, Female)
There is a differences betweenBaba Nyonya of Penang, Melakaand Singapore…..Some of the differences include:• Spoken language• Food• Religion
• Food“I think the differences would be the food. The(Nyonya) food from Malacca and Singapore havemore influence from Indonesia, the food are sweeter.We use a lot of coconut-milk and mix with traditionalMalay spices in our food. But Our Malacca Nyonyafood has stronger influence from the Portugese-Eurasian compare to the Singapore Nyonya food,because of the colonial period at Malacca. TheNyonya food from Penang have more influence fromThailand, they love to add souring agent into theirfood, like the famous Penang Asam Laksa. The PenangNyonya food also famous with the sweet-tastingbelacan, they called it "haeko".”(Sherly, 48, Female)
• ReligionPenang and Melaka – ancestral worshipSingapore – Christians• Spoken languagePenang – more HokienMelaka – more MalaySingapore – more English
• Traditional kasut manek designoften have European floralsubjects, with colors influencedby Peranakan porcelain andbatik sarongs. They were madeonto flats or bedroom slippers.But from the 1930s, modernshapes became popular andheels were added. Producemanually.
Kebaya Nyonya• The Nyonya’s Kebaya contains lotsof flower motifs. Mostly all of theNyonya’s Kebaya have thatelements on lower part of theKebaya. Usually it is combinationof many harmony colours.• The flowers represents the softnessof women and create the lady likefeel.
• Traditional blouse-dress• Made from sheermaterial
Sarong / batik kain panjang Hand woven Kain SongketColourful floral motif Batik sarong
Baba & Nyonya Religion( Ancestral Worship )• For the religion of Baba & Nyonya, they were Chinese-influenced, they adhere to ancestral Chinese religionand rituals. They worship their ancestors and pray toChinese deities.• They are not Muslims, but whatever they practice, theyadapted local Malay traditions, which create aharmonious relationship between two different customsand traditions.• Baba Nyonya subscribed to Chinese beliefs: Taoism,Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism,celebratedthe Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival.
Baba & Nyonya’s Name ( Influnced By Chinese )“Well basically they will add the Baba in front of thenames of the guys and Nyonya for the ladies. Then ournames are like Chinese names, we have our surname infront, a middle name which we follow the generationsand a last name which is a given name. For example myname, people will also call me Nyonya Lim Keow Hong;“Lim” is my family name, “Keow” is a generation nameso all my sisters have the same middle name, as for mybrothers theis middle name is “Ewe” and my given nameis “Hong”, so in my family they will call me Hong.” (Mdm.Lim, 41, Female)
• Baba is the front name the male. While Nyonya isthe front name for the female.• Followed by Family name.• Then generation name( middle name ), means that,for female, they will have the same middle name.Same as the male.• And the last one is the given name.
Mix of Malay and Chinese Customs…• Long ago, their marriage were arranged.• Before the wedding, there would be “merisek”group formed by the match-maker and few elderlyrelatives to inform the girl’s family of their intentionand to seek approval. (Chinese + Malay)• They talk in a mixture of “pantun”. (Malay)• Then they will consult a Feng Shui Master to checkthe compatibility of the bride and bridegroom-to-be. (Chinese)
Lapchai Day• Engagement day – starting of the 12-days rituals• When both parties came to an agreement.• Ceremony of exchange gifts between two families.“The Setting” “The Gifts”
Cheo-thau Ceremony• Nowadays, this is the starts of the wedding ceremony.• A performance of purification-and-initiation-into-adulthood rites.• Done at respective homes during auspicious hoursagreed upon earlier.“ flowers and hairpins placed on to thebride’s plain bun”“ comb thebridegroom’s hair 3times, and recite verseswishing health, fortuneand happiness.”
The Bridegroom proceed to Bride’s home…“the bridegroom leads a procession of serunai,musicians, men carrying umbrellas and lanterns,proceed to the bride’s home”
Chim-pong Ceremony• Coming together of the bride andbridegroom ritual.• Pay homage to heaven, earth, man• Elaborated preparation on altar table.• Ceremony guided by Sang Kheh Umm(Chief Mistress)• Every gesture + movementof the couple must syncwith the music “Seronee”• Couple would have towalk sideways.
The First Look• Happens when both bride and bridegroom meet inthe bridal chamber, for the first time.• Bridegroom lift the bride’s veil smoothly withoutdropping it on the floor.
ConclusionThe Babas and Nyonyas embody the idea of culturaldiversity in unity. They have adapted and borrowed withingenuity, resourcefulness and open minds to develop adistinctive culture that is colourful and unique. The Babasand Nyonyas are a unique sociological and culturalphenomenon that occurred in an era of momentoustransition. They have significantly enriched the Malaysianand Singaporean cultural heritage, cuisine, fashion andthe arts. If Peranakan culture cannot survive, we can onlyhope that the legacy of this extraordinary culture – aculture which brought out the beauty, grace, passion, joiede vivre, industry, resilience and resourcefulness of twomajor groups of people.