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Letters from the Dragonlands: ‘Peranakan’ and the Resurrection of Asia

Peranakan is a word used by both Malayans and Indonesians to mean “descendant.” It generally refers to the Chinese ancestors who migrated south to Malaysia and then across the sea to Indonesia and represents a culture and a spirit that survived through hundreds of years of European domination, provincial wars and a brief spell of Japanese conquest. Now, when something is ‘peranakan,’ it is quaint, exotic, antique and very precious to the Asian soul.