Exhibition highlights maritime cultural fusion

2024-06-06 08:21:34China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Accessories, porcelain and clothing, symbols of the vibrant Baba Nyonya culture, take center stage at the Exploring the World of Baba Nyonya exhibition in Qionghai, Hainan province, from March 26 to June 26. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Visitors step into the Baba Nyonya world on display in Hainan, exploring the rich history of its heritage, Chen Bowen reports in Haikou.

A silver engraved cigarette case from Singapore is on display in Qionghai, South China's Hainan province, where it serves as a poignant reminder of Lim Boon Keng's enduring legacy and the lasting friendships and goodwill that transcend borders and time.

Manufactured in 1925 by the London firm Henry Perkins &Sons, the cigarette case is inscribed with the heartfelt message: "Presented to Dr. Lim Boon Keng, Xiamen University, in tribute to his friends and well-wishers — Singapore, February 25, 1926."

Lim, a prominent Peranakan activist in the early 20th century, was not only a champion of educational reform but also a bridge between Southeast Asian Peranakans and their cultural roots in China.

In 1921, Lim took on the role of the second president of Xiamen University in China, a position he held until 1937. He was dedicated to fostering cultural and philanthropic ties between Singapore and China, which was endorsed by his friends and well-wishers who presented him with the sterling cigarette case.

Thanks to the generosity of his grandson Lim Kok Lian, this treasured cigarette case is now one of the exhibits of the Exploring the World of Baba Nyonya exhibition. Showcasing the Maritime Silk Road and Peranakan culture, it is being held at the China (Hainan) Museum of The South China Sea from March 26 to June 26.

The Peranakan, also known as the Baba (male) and Nyonya (female), are mixed-race descendants of immigrants from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) of China who intermarried with indigenous Southeast Asians. This unique community is a vibrant blend of Chinese and Malay cultures, resulting in a rich and distinctive Baba Nyonya heritage.

Han Junyuan, a Malaysian-Chinese descendant living in Hainan, visited the exhibition in late March. "I've heard of Lim Boon Keng's legacy as an exceptional Straits Chinese. It was a special moment for me to finally see his related item showcased in the exhibition," he says.


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