Sunday, January 04, 2015

Blinging out in Malacca

Bridal Head-dress
Checking back through this blog, I was surprised that I had not been to Malacca for over three years, since 2011. I note that my post was all about buying cooking equipment!  Am glad to report that this time round, I have a more "cultural" highlight - my visit to the Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum in Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock (Heeren Street).  Set up by the same folk behind the Pinang Peranakan Mansion in Penang, the museum features a typical Baba-Nonya home downstairs, with the jewellery displays on the second floor. 

Exhibit - Necklace studded with intan
My favourite section of the jewellery display was the  bridal jewellery.  Indeed, this was the occasion when the nonya displays all her bling-bling to showcase her family's wealth and prosperity (and to ensure that she would have some form of insurance if life went wrong).  I really liked the beautiful head-dress, with the delicate streamers hanging down from the front.   Of course, some times this ostentatious display of wealth can go a bit too far - the golden Chinese spoons used by the wedding couple being a prime example.  In general, however, the beautiful, delicate golden pieces - intricately patterned, studded with intan diamonds - take my breath away.

Another room features the jeweller's equipment.  Now, everyone who knows antique jewellery in Malacca knows Ban Onn, the goldsmith shop on Jonker Street.  This is a family-run business, now moving into its third generation.  Check out the corporate video here.  It's my first stop every visit to Malacca, and I often succumb to temptation - so it is a good thing that I've not been to Malacca for a few years!  Anyway, it was no surprise to see uncle's photo (big-big) on the wall of the museum!  I suppose it is reciprocal since there is a large poster of the museum in front of their shop as well.

Josephine Wee's bedroom
The next room was a bit of a surprise.  Everyone in Katong knows Katong Antique House - and its owner, Baba Peter Wee.  Well, some of Peter Wee's mother's old furniture and clothing can be seen here, in this little display of a typical nonya's bedchamber!  I asked our guide who indicated that her boss and Baba Peter Wee are old friends.  Hence he donated these items to the Museum.

In short, this little museum may be much smaller than the palatial Mansion over in Penang but it is literally a little gem.  So do visit!

The museum also has a very good book for those who want to know more.  But there's a useful and informative write-up here.

More photos of the jewellery museum here

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