Melaka, an ethnographical puzzle!

….but all this is nothing compared with the men of Malacca. Here is an ethnographical puzzle…..

The Hindu features are most remarkably apparent in that Chinese, with a shaven head and long-tail; there that coal-black, wooly headed personage calls himself a Portuguese and yonder hair, flaxen-haired, blue eyed youth says he is a Malay. Again, that yellow skinned, oblique-eyed, flat-faced, snub-nosed gentleman says he is a Dutchman.

The climate of Malacca is a surprising one in creating such incongruities. In two generations an Englishman becomes a Negro, a Chinaman becomes a Chitty, Malay becomes a Brahmin, and a round lusty German changes into a dried-up leather-jawed Arab.

The languages are soon forgotten, and all merge into the universal Malay. Not to say that broken-Dutch-English-and-Portuguese are not used ; but these are enunciated in the Malay idiom, so that they are so disguised as not to be understood excepting by true-born Malacca men. But the most amiable part of the Malacca man has not been mentioned, this consists in his absence of religious prejudice.

The Buddhist, Brahmin, Catholic, Protestant, and Mahomedan (Muslims), each assist at each other's festivals, and join with ardour in the ceremonies.

A cursory glance would convince the looker-on that indeed men were all of one mind here, and that the coming event was about to arrive. How could it be otherwise? Though Malacca has its representatives of all nations in the world, yet they are so mixed up with each other, that toleration on the broadest basis alone would secure the peace of society.

JT Thompson – Life in the Far East (1865)

Credit: Melaka In Fact Facebook Page

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