At the beginning of the 16th century, merchants and entrepreneurs were lured to Malacca’s shores due to stories of the city’s burgeoning success and wealth. In particular the city saw an influx of Chinese traders who arrived in droves in an effort to escape Manchu rule. These entrepreneurs went on to marry local Malay women – descendents of these marriages were known as Peranakan or ‘Straits-born Chinese’.
Their relative success resulted in these expatriate merchants becoming the principal wealth catalysts of the thriving city. The ‘Babas’ (male Sino-Malays) flaunted their affluence by purchasing Dutch townhouses and transforming them into out-and-out palaces. The interiors of these homes were opulent and stuffed to the tee with Dutch-influenced fixtures including hand-painted tiles and Victorian lamps.