Nestled in a leafy suburb of Singapore is a two-storey shophouse bursting with ornate antiques. This is The Intan, a private residence and award-winning Peranakan museum belonging to collector Alvin Yapp.
A Peranakan himself, Yapp’s passion for his culture is evident when you step into his home. Ornamental sideboards, tiffin carriers, spitoons and beaded slippers, all embellished with a blend of Chinese and Malay motifs, fill every available space.
Today, Yapp runs the museum with his sister, Cheryl, personally conducting guided tours. Here, he tells us more about his journey of cultural discovery.
Why did you start collecting Peranakan antiques?
As a young boy, I didn’t have the privilege of learning about my heritage while in school. I felt angry and embarrassed that I didn’t know my own roots. This prompted me to start my collection.
What does being Peranakan mean to you?
It means being aware of how my forefathers worked hard to journey to Singapore. Without an understanding of our roots, we become less community-minded. We risk being individuals without a history.
Which cities should one visit to learn about Peranakan culture?
Malacca is the epicentre of Peranakan culture, but this has since spread up north to Penang and down south to Singapore. You’ll also find Peranakan influences in Phuket and Myanmar.
This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.