Chanab Peranakan

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Java-Dutch East Indies, early 20th century

Before the mid-twentieth century, Cian-ap or Chanab or usually known as candy box, is set up on a Peranakan altar table commonly found in Peranakan houses in Indonesia, Malacca, Phuket, Penang and Singapore. Once a centerpiece on the Sam Kai altar table, Chanab was used for offerings during  the Chinese New Year, the ninth day of the Chinese New Year, and special occasions like weddings.

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Dragon and flower motifs were favored by the Chinese Peranakan
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Usually,  Chanab was placed in the center of Sam Kai Altar

The design of locally made Chanabs used by Peranakan families in Indonesia , like this one particular example, is usually not as sophisticated as the design of imported Chanabs from the Mainland China. The gilded and brightly colored local Chanabs were usually made from teak wood and adorned with motifs of Qilin, Dragon and flowers. Although many Chanabs are no longer used for their original purpose,  Peranakan altar table along with its Chanab’s tradition give us an insight into the fascinating culture of the Chinese Peranakan.

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