PARIS.- This exhibition tells a fascinating story: how an immigrant community created a unique culture by abandoning their own original culture and immersing themselves in the influences, customs and beliefs of their adopted country.
In Singapore, the term Baba designates a Peranakan Chinese man, and by extension, the descendents of Chinese traders who settled in Southeast Asia and assimilated certain aspects of Malay culture into their culture of origin. Baba also refers to the head of family who integrated elements of European culture through his parents and grandparents during the colonial period.
The intercultural integration that lay behind the Peranakan identity is a lesson in open-mindedness and tolerance, two subjects that have never been more relevant today.
A collection of approximately 480 artefacts has been assembled for this exhibition in order to highlight the luxurious and refined culture of the Peranakan Chinese established in Singapore. The artefacts on display furniture, valuable textiles decorated with beads and embroidery, and porcelain which borrow their shapes, patterns and colors both to Chinese and Malay cultures, mark the Peranakan identity.
Most of them date from the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century. This period corresponds to the economic boom in the colonial economy that made it possible for numerous Peranakan Chinese families in Singapore to get rich. It also marks the peak of these communities and this was materialised in part through a lifestyle whose heart and most important external sign was the home.