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Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum

Peranakans are descended from Chinese migrants who first came to Malacca many centuries ago. Adopting Malay customs and cultures, theirs is a unique heritage unlike any other. Peranakans are also referred to a 'Straits Chinese'. It is still a subject of debate whether the Peranakans actually intermarried with the local Malay population or maintained a pure bloodline, but most are said to be of Hokkien ancestry.

'Babas' refer to male Peranakans while 'Nyonya' refer to females. Often Nyonya is used to substitute the term 'Peranakan' as well. Peranakans also settled in Penang, the only other state than Malacca.

In terms of dressing, the women wear traditional Malay costumes, notably the 'Baju Kebaya' a form of blouse woven with silk. Foot-binding, a practice carried over from China, used to be common among the affluent folk but over the centuries, it is no longer practised and for good reason. Perhaps the Peranakan's most famous legacy is Nyonya food, a fusion of Malay ingredients with Chinese cooking styles. Some of the most popular dishes include 'Belacan', 'Assam Laksa', 'Cendol' and 'Kuih Talam¡'.

Peranakans speak a dialect of the Malay language called 'Baba Malay' which has some elements of the Hokkien language. Their most notable musical entertainment form is the 'Dondang Sayang'; or 'Love Song' where Babas and Nyonyas exchanged poems in a humorous style, accompanied by a violin, accordion and traditional instruments; the Rebana and Gong. Many Malaccans, regarded less of their ethnicity, often indulge in Dondang Sayang; such is its popularity.
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