This long wooden bench, or ‘pak ee’, is lacquered and outlined in gold paint, and has incised motifs. The word ‘pak ee’ is most likely a corrupt pronunciation of the word ‘piak ee’, a Hokkein word which means ‘wall chair’. This bench, unusually plain by Peranakan Chinese standards, had a back and a storage cabinet constructed below the seat, a style common in Malacca and Singapore. Pak ee were usually commissioned in pairs, to be placed facing each other on opposite sides of a room or hall. They were also sometimes used in kitchens as a multi-purpose work and storage bench. There is a taboo or ‘pantang’ with regard to the pak ee. Many elderly Nonyas were afraid of purchasing old pak ee from unknown sources as they may have been used to lay a dead person during the funeral rites, as was common practice then.

Date/Period
Late 19th century
Region
Singapore
Dimension
Object size: H113 x W212 x D62.3 cm
Accession No.
2004-00118
Material
wood
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morris Lee Pang Lim
Category
Furniture