Baba and Nyonya poetry book seems like something which does not quite fit in the 21st century. How many of you know anyone who can quote all these rhymes and having fun doing so as well?
Well, Johny Chee can and does it well too. A former English teacher with a deep-rooted love for his ancestral culture, he came up with this beautiful book which took a year to complete. He also self-published this whole project.
Titled: "A Tapestry of Baba Poetry", it is now in its second edition. This edition comes complete with a CD so that you can sing-a-long and also learn the correct ways to pronounce Penang Hokkien dialect as well.
Let me tell you why it is a special book. First, the rhymes, the one liners, the two liners and the poems, have never been written or published anywhere else before.
Some of the old sayings that were collected by Johny Chee were painstakingly sorted out so that none of them have appeared in any other similar book. He also added a lot of his own compositions in this book.
These poems also have side by side English translation that not only tell you the literal meanings but they are also poems in their own right in the English language. In most of them, extra explanation was given to tell you the meaning in our current context.
Wow, isn't that wonderful? This translation was done by Lim Poh Keng who is also a poet himself.
Johny also came up with the pronunciation system to describe the phonetic involved on the first few pages of the book.
In the first section of the book, he wrote about traditional Penang Hokkien Rhymes and Ditties.
These rhymes are the saying that the Babas and Nyonyas used to scold, to teach or to relate something funny, especially to the youngsters.
Penang Baba Rhymes, verses and ditties,
The second part of the book is about Baba rhymes, ditties and poems which were composed by Johny himself.
Here are more
rhymes and ditties;
Finally the third part describes the world of the Peranakans. Most of the time the verses are full of funny stories but at the same time teaching human values that all of us should adopt. There are plenty of good advice, and also observation that Johny Chee interpreted for us to understand more about the life of the Babas and Nyonyas.
What I love also about this book is, it is full of beautiful pictures that relate to the Baba and Nyonya poetry written here. You can see many antiques items such as Nyonya tableware, typical wall decorations found in rich Baba homes, intricate embroidery works, the furniture and the ancestral altar, to name a few. There are also old pictures of Nyonya all dressed up in their finery and a collection of wedding photographs of various fashion.
As if all of these are not enough; at the end of the book, the musical notes to sing these songs are also included.
The notes were transcribed by one of Johny Chee's students. I find that such an effort is really phenomenal, even though supposedly to be amateurishly done.
If you love Baba and Nyonya poetry, this is the book for you. If you like anything about Penang, this is a must-have too.
If you love culture, then the book is definitely for you!
You can purchase it online here at only RM37.00 per book. It is only slightly more than USD10.00!
It is a real value for your money.
Click here to order. Normal postage and packaging charges apply.
Baba and Nyonya Culture in Penang
Unique for Malaysia and the rest of the world is the Baba and Nyonya culture.
Nyonya Beaded Shoes
From Dr. Farish A Noor's private collection, a beautiful set of traditional Nyonya beaded shoes:
Nyonya Kebaya Materials for SALE here!
Click on these thumbnails to view the intricate patterns (kerawang).
New!CommentsHave your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.