Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Baba Nyonya Architecture of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock

Chee Mansion
Of the streets in the UNESCO World Heritage Site town of Melaka, perhaps the most well-known is Jonker Street. I would have to say that I liked the street parallel to it - Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. This street acquired the nickname "Millionaire's Row" because of the wealth and status of its residents. Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock was home to a community of Chinese also known as the Peranakans a.k.a. Babas and Nyonyas. Highly successful entrepreneurs particularly during the mid 19-20th century, the Babas and Nyonyas proudly displayed their wealth in highly ornate homes. As taxes of the time was based on the width of the home, these Straits Chinese built their homes to be narrow but quite deep. 
Many of these homes/shops have been revitalized, with some being converted into hotels, shops and caf├ęs. One of the homes has been opened up to the public as the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. The tour (15 RM ticket - about $5) was led by a very informative volunteer and gave me an introduction to the Straits Chinese. Although photography wasn't allowed, we viewed the beautiful interior architecture (including open courtyards and carved wooden screens), furniture, clothing, and other belongings of the Chan family (home built 1861). 

Roof and decorative tiles on some homes along Jalan Tun Tang Cheng Lock

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