Culture

A mural in Chinatown depicting a letter writer. (SPH Media)

Singaporean Mandarin Database: Recognising the uniqueness of the Singaporean Chinese identity

Associate Professor Tan Chee Lay, principal investigator of the Singaporean Mandarin Database, shares some interesting Singaporean Mandarin phrases and says it is time that we recognise our Chinese linguistic features as part of the Singaporean Chinese identity formed in a multicultural social setting.
A man uses a newspaper against the rain in Chinatown, Singapore, 1 January 2021. (SPH Media)

Of butt lumps, stomachs and heads: Chinese language of the common folk

Hua Language Centre director Chew Wee Kai regales us with anecdotes of various uses of the Chinese language among the general population in Malaysia and Singapore. While grammar and usage might not be the most accurate or logical, somehow one still manages to figure out the meaning, and bonds between people are formed.
People stand in a queue outside a restaurant along the popular Yaowarat Road in the Chinatown area of Bangkok, Thailand, on 5 September 2022. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

An imagined China and feeling Chinese in Thailand

Thai academic Sittithep Eaksittipong explains how the Thai rulers of the past used emotion as a political tool to assimilate the Chinese overseas in Thailand. Fast forward to today and the Thai Chinese are more confident of their identity, and feeling Chinese has less to do with developments in China. If anything, the latter is used as a means to chastise the Thai government.
The Dajia Mazu's litter arrives at a small temple in Xingang, Chiayi, allowing locals to pay their respects and celebrate the sea goddess’ birthday. (SPH Media)

Taiwanese art historian: The joy of sharing food in old Taiwan

Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun reminisces about the good old days of simple food and heartfelt folk religious festivals, where regular households threw banquets and opened their doors to friends and strangers. It is in those vignettes of daily life that all of Taiwan’s generosity, harmony, magnanimity and acceptance are on display.
A woman buys pork at a market in Taipei, Taiwan, 4 August 2022. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Remembering Mother's cleaver in the 'Palace of Versailles kitchen'

Amid the grandeur of his friend’s deluxe kitchen, Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun remembers his mother, a skilled cook. With simple tools and deft hands, she whipped up artisanal meals worthy of many a great restaurant.
Believers gather near the Trinity icon at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in the town of Sergiyev Posad, Russia, 18 July 2022. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Impressions of Moscow: Miracles and hope at St. Sergius Monastery [Part 4]

In the last of four articles, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares his impressions of the Moscow he knew from a decade ago. On a day trip from Moscow, he is awed by St. Sergius Monastery, the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.
A statue of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (iStock)

Impressions of Moscow: Pushkin influenced a whole generation of Chinese [Part 3]

In the third of four articles, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares his impressions of the Moscow he knew from a decade ago. Everywhere one turns, there are traces of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, a beacon that shines so bright that even the Russians say he doesn’t only belong to Russia, but the world.
Rice is a staple food for many people. (iStock)

The art of cooking rice and making bread

Throughout the world, perhaps nothing is more familiar than the daily essentials of rice and bread. These are everyday foods but is there anything more comforting than sitting down to a meal with a bowl of steaming, fragrant rice, or seeing a bakery window filled with freshly baked bread? No wonder centuries of poems and odes have been dedicated to these staples.
People walk along Nevsky Avenue in Saint Petersburg. (Photo: Ninara/Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Impressions of Moscow: Beauties on Nevsky Avenue [Part 2]

In the second of four articles, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares his impressions of the Moscow he knew from a decade ago. He revisits the cultural significance of Nevsky Avenue ((Nevsky Prospekt), a street on which stood literati residences and salons and where feminine beauty was on full display.