Hello everyone!

I am Bibik…when I was younger, they used to call me Girlie and not by my name Siew Neo – for a time many didn’t even know my name. They would say “ Anak lu si…si..apa tu?” “Girlie lah!”. You can call me Bibik for short because I am a gracious Kebaya-clad lady with impeccable Nonya taste.

Peranakans are very hospitable and sociable people. We love our Dondang Sayang Pantun (poetic songs) and our Joget (dance) sessions – any excuse to show off our beautiful kebayas, new sarongs and manik sandals and handbags…none of this Gucci and Prada for us!

We are also real foodies. Our food is a blend of Chinese, Malay and even Western cuisine and we celebrate occasions with great flair. So for birthdays, weddings, arrival of a new baby, anniversaries and festivals, we will bring out our beautiful Peranakan ware – kamcheng, chupu, dinner platters, bowls, tea sets; right down to spoons and chopsticks adorn our tok panjang or long table buffet of Babi Pong Teh, Ayam Buah Keluak, Chap Chye, Ngoh Hiang, Itek Tim, Ikan Gulai and a host of sambals and condiments.

You can just imagine how colourful and inviting the table looks. Peranakan porcelain or Nonya ware is truly unique – with intricate, ornate and decorative motifs that symbolise blessings of peace, harmony, prosperity and longevity, marital bliss, fertility and filial piety. These are depicted by floral sprays and peony blossoms, phoenixes and dragons, butterflies, dragonflies, birds and Chinese motifs.

Symbolism is key in the design of Nonya ware. Birds, particularly the phoenix is regarded as ‘the emperor of the feathered tribe’, and therefore prominently featured for its nobility, freedom and harmony with nature. Flowers especially the peony; fruits and insects denote values such as humility, order, respect for life and for all that is true and natural.

1

Peranakans love colour so you will find numerous shades of rose pinks, greens, yellows, turquoises, reds, purples, browns, blues made more vibrant by the  famille rose enamelling process. Each glazed polychrome porcelain piece is fired twice.

2

The first where the painted piece is fired at extremely high temperatures; followed by enamelling and re-fired at a lower temperature. In the famille rose process, enamelling is applied thickly to achieve stunning and vibrant colours, setting Peranakan ware distinctly apart from other Chinaware in uniqueness and exclusivity.

In the past Peranakan porcelainware, with their ornate and elaborately customised designs, were outward signs of wealth, status and success. Today they are collectors items and for many Peranakans a sentimental remembrance  of their strong regard for filial bonds, tradition and respect for ancestors; and a piece of history and culture of the florish of the Straits Settlement states of Penang, Malacca and Singapore.

Next time, I’ll tell you more about the story behind Peranakan ware and how design themes evolved. Until then, this is Bibik inviting you to visit us at our website for regular updates and postings of new our new products.

Bibik Siew Neo.