Peranakan exhibition goes on Korean exchange visit

AN EXHIBITION of Peranakan art and artifacts such as porcelain and beadwork has gone on display at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul, as part of cross-cultural exchange between Singapore and Korea.

'The Peranakan World: Cross-Cultural Art from Singapore and the Straits' was developed by the Asian Civilisations Museum here, and will be on show at the Korean national museum till May 19.

Peranakans are the descendants of traders and other migrants from China and India who settled in South-East Asia and intermarried with local groups; over centuries they evolved their own culture, including dialects of Malay, food, beadwork, clothing styles, furniture, porcelain and jewellery. These feature both South-East Asian and European influences.

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong was at the opening of the exhibition in Seoul on Monday.

Peranakan culture, he said at the exhibition's opening, is an example of Singapore's multi-cultural heritage.

"[It is] an example of the power of multi-racial communities - a lesson of the common values that bind us together despite our differences; of the importance of finding strength in diversity," he said.

Meanwhile, he added, there is potential for other exchanges and collaborations between Korea and Singapore, especially as "many young Singaporeans are big fans of K-pop music and movies and I think we would certainly like to expose them to a broader Asian Korean culture and heritage".

"I understand there are plans for a Korean Cultural Centre to be set up in Singapore. We are also in talks with the National Museum of Korea to do an exhibition in Singapore and we hope this can be done by 2015," Mr Wong said.

While this is the first time the Peranakan World exhibit has been shown in East Asia, in 2010 it was on display at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris as part of a Singapore arts festival there.