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Peranakan, Baba-Nyonya (娘惹) and Straits Chinese (after the Straits of Malacca) (土生華人) are terms used for the culture of the early Chinese immigrants to Malacca on the Malay Peninsula, who intermarried with the Malay population, and later spread throughout the British Straits Settlements to Singapore and Penang.

The Peranakan have taken elements from both cultures, for instance from their Malay origin a unique (and very tasty) cuisine has developed making use of the abundant spices found in Malaysia (examples are Chicken Kapitan, a dry chicken curry, and Inchi Kabin, a Nyonya version of fried chicken). The women (Nyonyas) have taken to wearing the baju kebaya (a Malay dress, seen most notably as the uniform of Malaysia Airlines' female flight attendants). However, the Peranakan eschewed Islam, preferring the ancestral worship of the Chinese, although some have now converted to Christianity. The wedding ceremony of the Peranakan is mostly Chinese, and is one of the most fascinating wedding ceremonies in Malaysia.

Their language, Baba Malay, is a dialect of the Malay language, which contains many Hokkien words. However, only members of the older generation still use it in daily life.

See also: Malaysian Chinese, Overseas Chinese

External Link

Penang State Museum