Katong Antique House in Eastern Singapore
Peter Wee inherited the Katong Antique House from his grandfather over 40 years ago. The three generations of Peranakan history and vibrant culture are displayed in this two-storied shop house. Decorated with intricately painted green tiles and painted a cheery yellow, the Katong Antique House is a treasure trove of Peranakan antiques.
The Peranakans refer to the descendants of Chinese who immigrated to the Malayan Peninsula and the Indonesia Archipelago between the 13th and 15th century. These immigrants adopted some Malay customs and traditions while retaining some of their own. Some say they retained the original Chinese traditions much better than the Chinese who remained in China as they were unaffected by the eradication of culture during the Cultural Revolution. They eventually went on to develop their own culture and language based on that of their adopted countries. When Singapore was colonized in 1819, some Peranakans moved to the tiny island state and befriended the English colonialists, thus beginning their history in Singapore which Mr. Peter Wee has spent his life striving to preserve.
Adorning the walls of the old shophouse are Peranakan prints and portraits. Peranakan crockery, costumes, and furniture fill the space. The influences and origins of the Peranakan culture are evident in these antiques. The baju panjangs (long dress) and batik sarongs are reminiscent of the native Malay dresses. The intricate kasot manek, handmade shoes with beaded designs, have beautiful motifs of fish, flowers, phoenixes and dragons, similar to the motifs found in Chinese designs. These motifs are found all over the furniture in the store, in the legs of tables and sides of cupboards, each associated with something the Chinese value like prosperity, fertility, longevity and wealth.
Peter has dedicated most of his life salvaging these treasures from the bins of Peranakan families whose young do not know of their family histories. His small museum-store preserves the remnants of Peranakan heritage abandoned by the unsentimental nature of the modern local.
The Katong Antique House is not only a museum but Peter’s love letter to Singapore.
Be Singapore! Get to the heart of a destination with your #PlanBe. Packed with neighbourhood guides, maps, things to do and backed by advice from on-the-ground local experts, the Be app is your ultimate city and travel resource in Asia. What’s your #PlanBe? Get it now for free using download buttons below or here: http://bit.ly/YourPlanBe
Title Image: @royyyyyylim