Baba and Nyonya Culture

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  • Topic: Peranakan, Singapore, Malay language
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  • Published : November 26, 2012
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HISTORY OF BABA & NYONYA
Peranakan and Baba Nyonya in chinese (峇峇娘惹 / baba niang re) are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Nusantara region during the Colonial era.In both Malay and Indonesian, ‘Peranakan’ is defined as ‘descendant’ with no connotation of the ethnicity of descent unless followed by a subsequent qualifying noun, such as for example Cina (Chinese), Belanda(Dutch) or Jepang/Jepun (Japanese). Baba is a Persian loan-word borrowed by Malaysian as an honorific solely for grandparents; it was used to refer to the Straits-Chinese males. Female Straits-Chinese descendants were either called or styled themselves Nyonyas. The word nyonya (also commonly misspelled nonya) is a Javanese loan honorific word from Italian Nona (grandma) meaning: foreign married Madam.

Language
The language of the Peranakans, Baba Malay (Bahasa Melayu Baba), is a creole dialect of the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu), which contains many Hokkien words. It is a dying language, and its contemporary use is mainly limited to members of the older generation.

Culture
1.Clothing
The Nyonya’s clothing was identical to that of the native Malay’s: baju panjang (long dress), batik sarung (batik wrap-around skirt) and kerongsang (brooch). Beaded slippers called Kasut Manek were a hand-made made with much skill and patience: strung, beaded and sewn onto canvas with tiny faceted glass beads from Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic). 2.Religion

Baba Nyonya subscribed to Chinese beliefs: Taoism, Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism, celebrated the Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival, while adopting the customs of the land they settled in, as well as those of their colonial rulers. There are traces of Portuguese, Dutch, British, Malay and Indonesian influences in Baba culture. A certain number of Baba Nonya families were and still are, Catholic. 3.Food

From the Malay influence a unique ”Nyonya” cuisine has developed using...
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