A Peek Into Chinese Peranakan Life in Penang 5: Toiletries & Beyond
We come to our final peek into Chinese Peranakan life in Penang. I only picked five aspects of Peranakan life to highlight in this special series, so I highly recommend you pay the Peranakan Mansion a visit. Explore the mansion’s secret treasures to connect with the colourful past of the Peranakans- the Babas (men) and Nyonyas (women).
Today we focus on articles from the Peranakan Mansion in the area of “Toiletries & Beyond”.
His & Hers
The furniture in the middle is obviously a dressing table, now guess what are those units to the left and right of it. I call them ‘his and hers comfort stations’. Can you guess what’s on the top and at the bottom?
TOP-wash basin BOTTOM- guess again? chamber pot
In the days of the Peranakans, indoor plumbing had not been perfected yet, so it was typical to have this sort of comfort stations. And when they needed service, all they had to do was ring the bell and a servant would come in through a special door to replace basin & pot without bothering the masters’ privacy.
These are ear spoons that function like Qtips/cotton buds (or swabs). Chinese around the world still use the ear spoon. However, not everyone has one made of 24 karat gold, which was pretty standard for wealthy Peranakans.
what in the world is that?
Read closely it says ‘electronically tested
for your protection’—keep guessing…
I found this part of the mansion quite curious. This is the family’s in-house pharmacy. Perhaps some medical concoctions need some heating or cooking? No worries. The pharmacy is conveniently located in the kitchen.