An Introduction to the Peranakan World
Southeast Asia has been one of the crossroads of the world since ancient times. Traders from many lands travelled the maritime routes connecting East Asia with the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, and Europe. Consequently, Many foreign merchants settled in Singapore and other pivotal centres along this route, married local women, and contributed to the development of a vibrant, hybrid culture. "Peranakan" comes from a Malay word anak (child), which can be loosely translated as "local-born" (as in born here, but not considered native). Chinese Peranakans are the majority, but there are also Peranakan communities of other ethnicities in Southeast Asia, including Arab, Indian, and Eurasian. Peranakan Chinese are descendants of southern Chinese traders who settled in Southeast Asia. Peranakan Chinese culture (also known as Baba-Nyonya; baba refers to men, nyonya to women) in some respects is deeply rooted in Chinese traditions and values, but is overall a fusion mingled with Southeast Asian and European influences.