Pinang Peranakan Mansion, Penang Malaysia
One of the highlights of our Penang trip is visiting the huge Peranakan Mansion. For readers who don’t know about Peranakan’s culture, it will be a delightful place to visit.
“The Peranakans, also known as the Babas and Nyonyas, was a prominent community of acculturated Chinese unique to this part of the world, especially in the Straits Settlements (Penang, Malacca and Singapore) hence its other name, the Straits Chinese. Adopting selected ways of the local Malays and later, the colonial British, the Peranakans had created a unique lifestyle and customs which had not only left behind a rich legacy of antiques but its cultural influences like cuisine and language are still evident in Penang today.”
– Source: Pinang Peranakan Mansion
Unlike the one I visit in Malacca, it is inside a huge mansion and they allow phototaking and interaction with most of their exhibits. You are allowed to sit and take photographs with the furniture on display and the guide will also enthusiastically assist to take photos for you! The entrance ticket is a mere RM 20 (S$ $7.50) and we spent almost 2 hours there! It is huge! The one in Malacca is inside a shophouse which is a third of this Peranakan Mansion in Penang!
The owner of this Mansion bought it over from the government with the promise to restore it. There are many artifacts which were donated from the original family who stayed at this mansion and there were pictures showing its previous dilapidated condition after surviving World War 2.
Even though the mansion does not belong to the original family now (who mostly migrated to the states and UK), they still own a small Ancestral temple (shown below) at the back of the mansion. According to the guide, the family hired a few staff to take care of the temple and when any of their descendant come back to Penang, they will be back to pay respect. They will also be back to pay respect during major Chinese occasions. According to the guide, the mansion was once surrendered to the Japanese during Japanese Occupation, but in exchange of the house and all the antiques in the house, the Japanese will leave their ancestral temple untouched.
According to the Chinese beliefs, the place where your ancestors laid is exceptionally important as a good location with excellent Fengshui will bless their future generations with harmony and prosperity. The original family who stayed here was headed by a very successful Tin mining business man, in order to continue this harmony and prosperity, the Ancestral temple must be protected and maintained.
We also saw many bats residing in the temple and according to Chinese beliefs, when bats choose to live in the house, it brings fortune in good luck as bats in Mandarin is 蝙蝠 which sounds like Fortune 福. So do not chase bats away if they pick your place!
In the mansion, they also showcase many authentic jewelries from the Peranakan culture. Those tiny bags are made with Gold and we wonder what can the ladies back in their time carry in those tiny bags. According to the guide, back in those days, the ladies only carry handkerchiefs in their bag and the gold bag is more to flaunt their wealth then anything.
There is also a showcase of their tablewares which were influenced by the British during when they colonized Penang.
An exhibit of those hand crafted beaded shoes. Back in their time, a Nonya (a female Peranakan) must learn how to sew and make their own beaded shoes before they can get married.
The second floor of the mansion showcases more of their living lifestyle.
My family, both young and old, greatly enjoyed this place and it is a must see when you visit Penang!