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Peranakan, Baba Nyonya Heritage and Culture with Raymond Kwok

Nyonya Kebaya  is a unique traditional ethnic clothes worn by the Nyonyas during the Straits Settlement times. I had the pleasure to take the photo of this beautiful embroidered Nyonya kebaya and other delicate antiques in a meet-up with Raymond Kwok, a Nyonya/Peranakan historian in Penang. 

Peranakan Baba Nyonya Heritage & Culture by
 Stunning and richly embroidered Nyonya kebaya


I had the privilege to know Raymond Kwok through an introduction by Tan Bee Lee, author of “Penang Nyonya Cuisine: Hawker’s Delight”, who happens to be also a reader of my food blog.

The weekend meet-up was held in his house which was filled to the rim with unique antiques! I had a long discussion about the books he has written, the history of Peranakan (Baba and Nyonya) and his vast collection of antiques.
 Peranakan Baba Nyonya Heritage & Culture with Raymond Kwok

Many of Raymond’s antiques are derived from the Peranakan culture, and he has immersed himself in the culture deeply for the last few decades! His interest in Peranakan remains steadfast despite the culture itself ebbing away with modernization. 

Raymond is very proud of the Peranakan culture, and tries his very best to uphold the traditions. Besides Peranankan items, his private collection includes many other antiques of porcelain and works of art. I managed to take some photos of his valuable collection. This fine and delicate pair of beaded shoe ‘ kasut manek’  and accessories for the Nyonyas caught my eye.

Kasut Manek (Beaded Shoe) by
Peranakan Baba Nyonya Heritage & Culture by

Small enamel spittoon tin to hold the saliva spat out during the ‘Makan Sireh’ also known as chewing betel leaves which the Nyonyas indulges in.
Peranakan Baba Nyonya Heritage & Culture by 
Peranakan Baba Nyonya Heritage & Culture by
4-tiered enameled Tiffin food carrier
Peranakan Baba Nyonya Heritage & Culture by
Truly classic antique bellows suitable for any fire place

Over the past years, he has authored five books.
The books he has written are:
a) Hokkien/Baba Sayings for All Occasions
b) Hokkien Rhymes and Ditties : Down Memory Lane
c) Local Chinese Beliefs, Myths, Taboos & Superstitions
d) Charm Charm Rhymes and Ditties
e) Malay Echoes from The Past : Penang Hokkien - Baba ‘Language’
Peranakan Baba Nyonya Heritage & Culture by

The book, Malay Echoes from The Past : Penang Hokkien - Baba ‘Language’ is the last of the series of four books dealing with Penang’s quaint and unique, yet distinct Hokkien dialect which contains a lot of loan words from Malay, English and to a certain extent Cantonese. 

Peranakan Baba Nyonya Heritage & Culture by

All of his books are highly recommended and are available for sale solely from him only. He can be reached at +604 6569550 and by email at
It was a very enjoyable meet-up with Raymond. I got to gained interesting experience from him besides the advice and understanding regarding collector items.

Thanks a lot Raymond for sharing many Peranakan, Baba and Nyonya culture with me! Wishing you success in your up-coming new book, Penang Baba Nyonya Heritage.
Zac Teo

Zac Teo


  1. Some excellent photos you have in this series!


  2. Hey... CK... thank you for great coverage :-) That's my Uncle Raymond :-D

    Cousin Calvin...when are you going to review your Dad's work, huh?

    pixen aka SFOng


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