Tan Geok Choo Wee Law Collection, National Archives of Singapore. To watch the full video, click here.
This black and white film is one of the earliest audio-visual recordings and home videos in the collection of the National Archives of Singapore. It contains, among other things, footage of a Peranakan bride.
The traditional Peranakan wedding lasted 12 days and consisted of various rituals and rites which reflect their values and rich culture. Some of the wedding rituals included: the lap chai ceremony which involved exchanging of gifts between the families of the bride and groom; the chiu thau ceremony, a hair-combing ceremony to initiate the bride and groom into adulthood; the sah jit held on the third day of the wedding where the couple would pay respects to their elders and ancestors; and the chia sia ceremony, where the bridegroom’s friends and younger relatives were invited to a celebration in the bridal chamber. Such elaborate weddings are no longer held today.
The traditional 12-day Peranakan wedding required different outfits to be worn on different days for the various ceremonies and rituals. Even for a modest wedding, a minimum of two ceremonial dresses would be required; at least one for the first day of the wedding and the other for the final day. The bride in the video appears to be wearing a baju hock chiew, a satin top and skirt embedded with gold thread. It would have been worn during the chia sia ceremony held on the fifth day of the wedding.
To watch the full video and view more details of this record and other records, click here.