The Straits-born Chinese often intermarried with the local Malays. From this alliance, the illustrious Baba Nyonya culture evolved, combining some of the most colourful aspects in the culture and lives of both ethnic groups.
In her dressing, the Nyonya often adopted the Malay style, both thesarong and baju being utilised. The materials chosen to fashion the baju ranged from cotton to silk, voile and organdy. From the 1880s, the baju panjang was popular until the shorter kebaya gained vogue in the 1930s, especially among the younger women. The embroidery on the kebaya involved intricate and extensive work.
Both the porcelain and jewellery owned by the Nyonya were unsurpassed in their beauty, richness of designs and artwork. The highly decorative yet utilitarian porcelain reflected their colourful lifestyle. Polychrome enamelware was extremely popular in their households. The phoenix-and-peony motif (known as the famille rose) often came in a variety of colours – green, rose pink, white, blue, coral red and yellow. Under-glazed crockery in the blue-and-white floral or floral-and-insect motifs as well as Japanese Kakiemon enamelware, Yi-hsing brown stoneware and opaque polychrome stoneware were likewise popular.