By The Peranakan Gallery on May 2, 2019
SINGAPORE, MAY 2019: Phoenix in flight, dancing dragons and peonies in full bloom – visitors to The Peranakan Gallery at Orchard Road will be enthralled by artful depictions of these colourful and iconic Peranakan symbols throughout a gallery space that focuses on tracing the 500-year-old story of the Straits Chinese population in Southeast Asia.
Beginning from the arrival of Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho’s fleet in the early 15th Century, the Peranakans embraced cultural practices and aesthetics from local Malays and occupying Europeans over 300 years to shape a hybrid culture rich in its own tapestry of traditions.
The Peranakan Gallery brings to life this remarkable heritage within a setting that is accessible and intriguing to visitors with all levels of understanding of the Straits Chinese culture.
“The Peranakan Gallery is a celebration of our Straits Chinese way of life, created to transport visitors to the golden age of Peranakan heritage through an experience that is visually captivating and highly-immersive. We hope the gallery inspires each visitor to discover more about our unique hybrid culture that embraces East and West, and to be an active advocate for all things Peranakan. Our efforts in encouraging people to participate and promote Singapore’s Peranakan culture stems from a passion to preserve our ancestral heritage for generations to come,” explains Baba Raymond Khoo, founder of The Peranakan Gallery and also executive chef of The Peranakan.
“Orchard Road was home to one of Singapore’s original Peranakan enclaves in the 1800s. We hope this exciting project both celebrates the heritage of Orchard Road whilst transforming the typical mall visit with an enriching insight into Peranakan culture,” adds Baba Raymond regarding Orchard district’s Peranakan history.
At The Peranakan Gallery’s entrance, guests are greeted by a typical Peranakan shophouse façade complete with an ornately-carved Pintu Pagar (fence door), a traditional privacy screen placed in front of the home’s main entrance. A table set-up for a game of Cherki (a olden card game similar to gin rummy) beckons within, while a large section is dedicated to the art of embroidering and wearing the iconic Sarong Kebaya and Kasut Manek (beaded slippers) traditionally worn by Peranakan women.
Authentic Peranakan Flavour
The Peranakan Gallery’s main exhibit centres around an elaborate 20-seater Tok Panjang table set with exquisitely-crafted Nyonya ceramics, Chinese porcelain and Waterford crystalware; a nod to the Malay, Mandarin and European influences beloved by the Peranakans and assimilated into their aesthetic.
Tok Panjang is a grand spread of dishes laid out with great care upon a table, in celebration of special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries and hallmark birthdays. Centering this table at the heart of The Peranakan Gallery spotlights the importance that Babas (men) and Nyonyas (women) place on their distinct culinary heritage.
Encircling this centrepiece are displays of items and furnishings typical to Straits Chinese homes of yesteryear – from black and white family portraits, treasured and antique kam cheng, a collection of vintage tiffin carriers and even enamel chamber pots.
Visitors will be heartened to know that this Tok Panjang table isn’t merely a museum display, as the gallery’s adjoining restaurant, The Peranakan, is able to serve up an authentic Tok Panjang feast comprising over 12 signature items at the table.
Besides docent-accompanied experiences, The Peranakan Gallery also offers dining packages with authentic Peranakan cuisine by The Peranakan restaurant.
On the same note, The Peranakan Gallery is able to serve halal or Muslim-friendly cuisine according to request and pre-arrangement for group tours.
Visitors may explore the gallery without having to dine at the restaurant since The Peranakan Gallery is operated separately from The Peranakan restaurant.
Meanwhile, The Peranakan Shop, located next to The Peranakan Gallery, highlights authentic Peranakan homeware and décor, jewelry, fashion and craft arts for visitors who’d like to take home a unique Peranakan souvenir.
The Peranakan Gallery is opened in collaboration with Claymore Connect, a mall by CDL Hospitality Trusts (CDLHT).