15 Dec 2017

Sentimental Journey: The Peranakan Mansion

We hadn't been to Penang since the late 70s, and when I learnt that the Sea Princess was stopping there, I was excited to go see the Peranakan Mansion I had heard so much about.

The website of the Peranakan Mansion states: "At the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, the typical home of a rich Baba of a century ago is recreated to offer a glimpse of their opulent lifestyle and of their many customs and traditions. With over 1,000 pieces of antiques and collectibles of the era on display, this Baba-Nyonya museum is also housed in one of Penang’s heritage mansion of eclectic design and architecture." 

Thus, I was looking forward to spending a few hours celebrating my ethnic heritage and perhaps evoking some childhood memories.

As it turned out, the Peranakan Mansion was conveniently within walking distance from the Swettenham Cruise Terminal where our ship docked.

Impressive carved screens near the entrance

The central airwell - and looking up towards the second storey
We arrived just as a tour of the Mansion by this gentleman was about to start.
One of the many rooms, with furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl
Looking towards the central airwell
Looking down the airwell.  Know what's on the table?
On the table were these cards, which as a child, I remember my mother playing with other female relatives.  Check out this link.
Display cabinet with the nonya crockery

Vessel for drinking water
The beaded slippers of the nyona ladies
The beads with which these slippers were made
The kebaya for the younger ladies

And the baju panjang for the older ones
The Mansion has an adjoining building which houses the family altar.
There is so much more in this amazing collection of baba and nonya artifacts, some of which were so familiar from my childhood days.  This was certainly an enjoyable visit.


  1. Good to see a revival in Peranakan pride! Anthony has been keeping me in touch with the culture in Singapore, including restaurants in Katong and a few years ago the museum and restaurant at Armenia (?) St. It has been a long time since Kay and I went to Penang, you've given us another reason to go.

    1. KM, The museum at Armenia St used to be the old Tao Nan Primary School, and later became the Asian Civilization Museum, and has been converted into the Peranakan Museum.
      Arthur, have you visited the one in SG?

    2. Yes, KM. The resurgence is good. There are so many Peranakan shops and restaurants is Katong (my old haunt) now. Penang has done a very good job of preserving Colonial and older buildings, unlike Singapore.

    3. Hi Prof. Yes, I've been to the Peranakan Museum and enjoyed it a few years ago. We also had lunch at the Peranakan restaurant next door, which was excellent.

  2. It takes my breath away!!! Heard so much about it but all those times I was in Penang, I never dropped by to check this place out. Gotta remember to do that the next time I hop over to the island.

    My mum has the sarong kebaya, the beaded slippers, the silver belt, the keronsang...she's nyonya in a way, half Chinese half Melanau and everything in her family was more peranakan style, the dress, the food, the sanggul-ed hair, the chewing of sireh and buah pinang, seen all that before.

    1. Do visit it next time you're in Penang, suituapui. There will be lots for you reminisce over.

  3. Breathtaking images dea ausiroo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    the glory and magnificence has amazed me.
    thank is not enough for your post my friend .
    this is STUNNING!!!

    1. Thank you, baili. It is certainly a marvellous mansion with a huge collection of Peranakan artifacts. Sadly, these are not seen much today.

  4. Hi Arthur, Great colours and artifacts of our rich peranakan heritage. You are right about Penang doing a good and commendable job in preserving the culture - last month they hosted an International Baba Nyonya Convention with delegates all over including Australia! The Chief Minister of Penang- Lim Eng Guan was also involved and of course the Singapore Babas and Nyonyas were represented? See the following links


    1. Hi sweetee. Thanks for the links.