Where do we go to immerse ourselves in Peranakan heritage?

In the heart of Joo Chiat, lies a treasure trove.

Daddy followed some buddies to The-InTan a few weeks ago, maybe it was his curiosity for heritage, or perhaps there is some Peranakan blood flowing within Lee family? Daddy’s Grandpa is a baba from Indonesia, and our Grandma from China. It is quite embarrassing that Daddy did not bother to trace further up his family roots :p

Our host, owner cum collector, is Alvin Yapp, and he lives in his own museum too.

Infront of the ancestral altar, Alvin explain to us that only male descendents are placed on the altar. Nobody got any clue where does the female folks go after demise (百年).

.. but, even while Alvin is talking, you cannot help but wonder why are there so many spittoons and tingkats? Daddy suspects every collector got their own taste.

You will notice that a Peranaken house is always elongated and narrow. History has it that your property tax is based on the width of your house. Thus the clever Peranakan conceal their “bigger” house with folds and blinds.

Artifacts and collector’s items greet us from every corners and beams. Some of them are intricately crafted, while others look like a fusion between Bali, Eurasian and Chinese designs.

Peranakan woman folk love jewellery, and we heard how the kebaya is designed with a slit at the naval, so when it flips in the wind, you can steal a glimse of her special stone 🙂 Note to the buaya guys, do not go staring at any kebaya clad (not SIA) female’s naval area !


We heard Peranakans like to deck up their home with wooden furniture. Look at the elaborate cabinets, altars and even mother-of-pearl couches around us.

Alvin share with us that traditional Chinese love “round angle” furniture (as 圆 means good luck, fulfillment, or even gathering). But why does Peranakans love square and rectangle corners, he suggested this might have been influenced by Eurasians.

One thing which Peranakan adore are the colours Greens and Pinks, together with Peony and Phoenixes. Alvin readily agree that this Lang-ga colour combination are not main-streamed. (Lang-ga in Hokkien means accident!)

Love the beams and roof. Everytime when you look up, you can expect to spot some hanging artifacts or calligraphy-boards.

Lanterns and statues decorate the beams, we can even find deities (福禄寿)


Bedroom. Not for sleeping, but to display more beads and trinkets and hand-woven artifacts.

The colourful beaded sandals. Many people know more about the sandals and kebayas after watching MediaCorp’s “Little Nonya 小娘惹”.

Even the toilet looks like an art gallery. Impressive!

On every shelf, and behind each cabinet, we explore more hidden treasures.
Alvin has been building his collection over twenty years. His purpose is to share Peranakan heritage to a wider audience, and engage audience through outreach programmes.


A visit to a Peranakan house is not complete without tasting exquisite ang-ku-kueh (literally red tortoise pastry). Love the yellow pastries, which has a sponge like texture, chewy, and maybe a tinge of Durian? Sweet.

Our group waiting to hear more stories from Alvin, and we found out there are three main types of Peranakan. The biggest group are those who come from China, and married local Malay women. We also have India’s Hindu (Chitty), India’s Muslims (Jawi), and the smaller group from Eurasian. These inter-marriages mean Peranakan population along the Straits. inherit the cultures from separate communities.

And, it is an insult to say a Peranakan is not Chinese :p
Daddy only know they do not have a strong command of Chinese language, but they do follow Taoist or Buddist festivals.

Look at the cheong-sam magnets, and tissue paper, so cute and elaborate. Nothing is spared to entice the visitors.

SengkangBabies would like to thanks The-InTan’s Alvin and team for hosting us, we had an enjoyable tour and it was fun.
If you are interested to explore or even dine at The-InTan’s, you can make an appointment with them through their website –> http://www.the-intan.com

More information and photos can be found :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peranakan (there is a listing of the VIP Peranakans)
more The-InTan photos on our album
– our previous kids experience at Peranakan Museum {Armenian}

Do drop by my friend’s blog post:
– Jerome (http://thelongnwindingroad.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/a-gem-of-a-find-in-the-heart-of-joo-chiat/)
– Jade (http://www.jadeisabelle.com/2012/04/18/event-visiting-the-intan-on-saturday-14-april-2012/)

credit. Above group photo from The Intan‘s fanpage

Author: SengkangBabies

I am a Blogging Daddy of four. Our kids are roaming Singapore to bring you FUN, This blog is use to capture our kids' growing up phases, and we want you to leave our blog with a smile :)

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