A Peek Into Chinese Peranakan Life in Penang 3: Mourning Dress Codes
Today we look into articles in the Peranakan Mansion that give us a glimpse into the mourning customs of the Chinese Peranakans.
The Peranakan mourning lasts for 3 years. And in that period:
-no celebrations, no weddings
-no wearing of gold and diamonds
-mourning colors are as follows:
1st year – BLACK, 2nd year– Dark Blue with a little hint of pattern, 3rd year- GREEN
For the mourning BABA (Man)
1st year of mourning: BLACK
2nd year of mourning: BLUE with a hint of pattern
(upper left corner)
Sorry, I didn’t realise I got distracted by the safe (middle) and didn’t take a full photo of the blue Baba clothing on the left.
3rd year: GREEN
(with more obvious pattern)
Yesterday, we learned about how the Peranakan man must dress his wife from head to toe in gold. But what about when somebody dies in the family? Absolutely no gold during the period of mourning. But of course, they devised a way to still parade their wealth. Can’t wear gold? What about silver? Yes, it’s ok. What about diamond? Absolutely, NO diamonds – but pearls are okay. As to the Peranakans it symbolised tears.
For the mourning NYONYA (Woman)
Here is a whole display case of Nyonya jewellery,
all silver and pearls.
If you read the text closely- it’ll tell you the very specific types of jewellery the Nyonya was allowed to wear while mourning.
“Baba (for men) and Nyonya (for women) was a term first used by Malays to differentiate the locally born Chinese from later immigrants.” via thebabahouse
You may be wondering – If a wedding has been planned after the family completes the grieving period and then all of a sudden another elder dies, then that’s another 3 years of mourning. No wedding is happening till that new cycle of grieving is finished.
Check out these links for more photos and articles about Peranakan Mourning Customs:
-PERANAKAN MOURNING PEACOCK KAIN PANJANG
(An example of Nyonya mourning fabric) on trocadero
-Chinese Peranakan Food and Symbolism in Malaysia
(with special focus on Pernakan mourning rituals)