Free for Singaporeans & PRs. Ticketing charges for foreign residents and tourists apply.
We are a 10 minute walk from City Hall or Bras Basah MRT Station.
Even as they adopted other local customs and ways of doing things, Chinese religion remained an important marker of the Peranakan community's distinct identity. As the Peranakan population grew, Chinese monks and priests were brought from China to serve the community, and temples were among the first substantial public structures built. The Cheng Hoon Teng temple in Malacca, the oldest functioning temple in the Malay Peninsula, was founded in the early 1600s by Peranakan Kapitan Tay Kie Ki. After Singapore was founded, Peranakans also played a key role in establishing religious institutions here. The Tian Hock Keng temple on Telok Ayer Street was one of the most important of the early temples to be built. Dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, Ma Cho Po, it was established in 1839, by a group of donors led by Tan Tock Seng, one of the foremost early Peranakan Chinese leaders in Singapore.
Gilded teak, 332.5 x 186 x 71.5 cm
2005-01479, Purchased with funds from Friends of ACM through Gala Dinner 2005
This is a rare example of a sideboard that was used by a Peranakan Chinese family in Singapore as a domestic altar. What makes it unusual is the painting of the Christian Holy Family – Christ and his parents, Mary and Joseph – installed at the centre. The owners had converted from traditional Daoist deity and ancestor worship to Roman Catholicism. The altar, which bears typical Daoist motifs such as dragons, qilin, phoenixes, and the Three Star Gods of good fortune, prosperity, and longevity (Hock, Lock, Siew) on the crown, was purchased in the 1920s.
This object is part of the story of the spread of Christianity in Singapore and the conversion of Peranakan Chinese from the early 20th century onwards. Many contributed to the development of early churches in Singapore.