Melaka, Malaysia: Kristang Heritage of the Portuguese Settlement [SP]
|The Portuguese Heritage Museum at the Portuguese Settlement showcases Kristang history and traditions|
The Portuguese Settlement – sometimes called Mini Lisbon – is a Kristang community in Ujong Pasir, five kilometers from the city of Melaka, Malaysia. The Kristang creole people arose in Melaka between the 16th and 17th centuries when the city was a port and base of Portuguese colonial rule. Portuguese men married native Malay women. The Kristang stock was later enriched by intermarriages with Dutch, British, Chinese and Indian settlers. Besides Bahasa Malaysia and English, Kristangs speak a unique creole language based on Portuguese.
|The last original house standing at the Portuguese Settlement, which was established in 1933|
In 1933, 11 hectares of land in Melaka were purchased with the purpose of creating a haven for scattered Kristang and their culture. The swampy land was cleared and 10 wooden houses with earth floors and attap roofs were built. Saint John’s village, as that simple fishing village was originally known, soon attracted additional Kristang from all over Malaysia, and grew to become one of Malacca’s main tourist attractions, improving the standard of living of its villagers.
Sadly, the wooden bungalow at 10 Jalan D’ Aranjo, located across a Catholic chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is the last traditional Kristang (Portuguese Eurasian) house left at the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka. It was inherited by Nicholas Loboo in the 1940s and now taken cared of by his nephew. Inside the house, one can notice the images of the Virgin Mary and Holy Child Jesus, as Kristangs generally practice the Roman Catholic faith. Besides the old Kristang house, there’s a small Portuguese Heritage Museum that chronicles the history and traditions of the Kristang people, as well as showcasing artifacts, costumes and antiques belonging to the local community.
|Roman Catholic iconography inside a Kristang house|
Generally, the Portuguese Settlement is quiet during the day, and most tourist flock to the area at night to enjoy an al fresco seafood dinner at one of the many shops in the village. Looking a bit neglected and rundown, the area really needs to be enlivened to attract tourists who only visit the historic core of Melaka.
This blog post was made possible through Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia – Melaka, a media tour held last November 23 to 25, 2013. The event was organized by Gaya Travel Magazine and Tourism Malaysia in celebration of Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
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