New Delhi: Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam inaugurated the first ever exhibition on the Peranakan Chinese in New Delhi as a part of his four-day visit to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The exhibition titled "The Peranakan World - Cross-cultural Art of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca" glimpses into the life of the particular Chinese sect and will display an assortment of objects including diamond and gold jewellery, porcelain, furniture and beadwork, among others.
"I am glad that today you have decided to join me in a celebration of some of the important aspects of our life experiences. This exhibition explores the fascinating story of the Peranakans during the late 19th and 20th centuries and features over 100 artefacts from Singapore," said Tony Tan during the inauguration of the exhibition.
He added it was appropriate that the exhibition was unveiled during the 50th anniversary of India-Singapore relations, stressing that India had a role in influencing Singaporean culture.
The exhibition that is being hosted by the National Museum will remain open till March 25.
Later, Tony Tan accompanied by his wife Mary went around the National Museum and looked at the exhibits.
The Peranakans, whose name means "local born" in Malay, are descendants of Chinese traders who settled in Malacca, Malaysia and around the coastal areas of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, as early as the 14th century.
In the 19th century, the Peranakan Chinese, drawn by commerce, migrated to the bustling ports of Penang and Singapore.
Marrying local women, they formed a hybrid culture that mixed Chinese, Malay and European influences. These so-called Straits Chinese differentiated themselves from later waves of migrants from China with their unique language, arts, foods and dress.
In prosperous times, Peranakans wore gold hair pins, chunky gold belts and diamond studded brooches, or kerosangs, which were used to fasten the traditional tunics worn by women. There are also pieces made from silver and pearl which were specifically used during periods of mourning.
Most of the jewellery was worn by Peranakan women, known as Nyonyas.
While Peranakans are no longer as distinct a community in Singapore as in the past, the country saw its first comprehensive dictionary of the Peranakan dialect "Baba Malay" published in 2006.
As many as 10,000 ethnic Peranakans are believed to be residing in Singapore, but there are no reliable population estimates.
Tony Tan and his wife Mary Tan arrived on February 8 and were given a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential palace, the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
They were invited to a banquet at the Palace a day later, where he was welcomed by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The close relationship shared by India and Singapore is based on convergence of economic and political interests.
Singapore is one of India's major trade and investment partners, with bilateral trade for the financial year 2013-14 standing at USD 19.27 billion.