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Who are the Peranakans?
For centuries, the riches of Southeast Asia have brought foreign traders to the region. While many returned to their homelands, some remained behind, marrying local women.

The Malay term ‘peranakan’ which means ‘locally born’ also refers to other communities that developed in Southeast Asia like the Chitty Melaka and Jawi Peranakans.

The Peranakan Chinese are descendants of Chinese traders who settled in Malacca and around the coastal areas of Java and Sumatra, as early as the 14th century. In the 19th century, the Peranakan Chinese, drawn by commerce, migrated to the bustling ports of Penang and Singapore.

The Chitty Melaka, or Peranakan Indians, descended from unions between South Indian Hindu merchants and local women, from the time of the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century. Linguistically, the Peranakan Indians speak a type of vernacular Malay which incorporates some Tamil words.

The Jawi Peranakans (or Jawi Pekan) are descendants of intermarriage between South Indian-Muslim traders and women of the local community. The Jawi Peranakans clustered around urban centres, particularly in the trading port of Penang.

The Peranakan culture is a unique hybrid culture that is still part of Singapore’s living heritage.


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