Thursday, 26 September 2013

Recent purchase - Peranakan bowl

I've been quiet on here for the past week as one of my sons has been for his first visit out here. He left his girlfriend at home and brought his friend as they came to predominantly watch the F1 Grand Prix (not to see little 'ole mum!!!) Anyway we had to show him the usual places on the tourist map... Chinatown, Little India, Botanical Gardens, Zoo (post to follow later on that!) and Kampong Glam - Arab St.

Whilst visting Kampong glam we took them down Bussorah St which is awash with souvenir shops and restaurants, full of the usual tourist gifts. One such shop which I feel is certainly different is the Little Shophouse (43 Bussorah St). Little Shophouse sells amongst the tourist trinkets Peranakan/Nonya wares. Hubby and I have visited a few times and in the past chatted with the owner Robert Sng who was very knowledgeable and friendly.

This time its was the owners sister that was there and we watched enthralled as she stitched the minute beads into cloth to make the Peranakan slippers.

Auntie at work stitching the minute beads 

These slippers are one of the products they specialize in and retail around S$980 a pair, quite a price until you realise that they take her over 2 months of beading to make before being sent to a cobbler to make the leather shoes. Kakak Irene (a lovely auntie) told us that there are only 2 of these shoemakers left; another art thats threatened with extinction. Auntie also said at the moment there is noone to take over from her as her neices are to young.

Little Shophouse also sell Peranakan china. They have many small pieces, jugs bowls, spoons etc. After chatting for a good time hubby spied in a corner a large Peranakan bowl full of trinkets - we emptied these, blew away the dust and fell in love!!! Auntie explained that they only had a few of these older large pieces left, as in China now you cannot find any artists that are willing, or able, to decorate on this large scale, it could of been "a line" but we believed her, you can also see the difference in the quality of the painting compared to the smaller pieces.

Needless to say we purchased, carried it extremely carefully and caught a taxi back home (we werent going to risk MRT and bus plus it was very very heavy) the bowl now sits pride of place on a sideboard back at home

The bowl measures 40 cm in diameter and 16 cm tall. It is decorated with peonies and phoenix motifs, both which are a popular decoration on Peranakan ware. Peranakan ware is commisioned and then made and decorated in China before being exported back to Singapore. The phoenix symbolizes the south and peace and prosperity. The dainty peony flowers in the springtime. Together, they indicate marriage and fertility and were the main design seen on nearly all nonya porcelain. Nonya is a Peranakan women and Baba the male. The phoenix and peony can also represent the history of the Straits Chinese (Peranakan) culture which prospered as a result of the Chinese immigrants whose hard work, perseverance and intermarriages exerted great influence in Singapore.  

Little Shophouse is open daily 10:00 - 18:00  tel no 62952328. They hold one to one beading lessons for Peranakan slippers on Wednesdays and Saturdays S$320 which includes the materials - my eyesight isn't good enough even with my glasses on!


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peranakan Chinese and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Indonesian archipelago and British Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore).
Members of this community in MelakaMalaysia address themselves as "Nyonya Baba". Nyonya is the term for the women and Baba for the men. It applies especially to the ethnic Chinese populations of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java and other locations, who have adopted to Nusantara customs — partially or in full — to be somewhat assimilated into the local communities. Many were the elites of Singapore, more loyal to the British than to China. Most have lived for generations along the straits of Malacca and most have a lineage where intermarriage with the local Indonesians and Malays have taken place. They were usually traders, the middleman of the British and the Chinese, or the Chinese and Malays, or vice versa because they were mostly English educated. Because of this, they almost always had the ability to speak two or more languages. In later generations, some lost the ability to speak Chinese as they became assimilated to the Malay Peninsula's culture and started to speak Malay fluently as a first or second language.
While the term Peranakan is most commonly used among the ethnic Chinese for those of Chinese descent also known as Straits Chinese (土生華人; named after the Straits Settlements), there are also other, comparatively small Peranakan communities, such as Indian Hindu Peranakans (Chitty), Indian Muslim Peranakans (Jawi Pekan) (Jawibeing the Javanised Arabic script,[3] Pekan a colloquial contraction of Peranakan[3]) and Eurasian Peranakans (Kristang[3]) (Kristang = Christians).[3][4] The group has parallels to the Cambodian Hokkien, who are descendants of Hoklo Chinese. They maintained their culture partially despite their native language gradually disappearing a few generations after settlement.[5]

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