Friday, 29 August 2008

Peranakan Designs

I love the jewellery, pottery, embroidery designs, traditional costume, beaded slippers of the Peranakans. The above photos were taken from this book on kebayas (traditional embroidered blouse). These kebayas are from the private collection of the late wife of Malaysia's prime minister.

My maternal grandmothers, yes, both wore the Peranakan sulam (embroidered) kebaya blouse and sarong every single day. She kept the more elaborately embroidered kebaya blouse for Sundays when she attended church. Of course, hers were not as elaborate as those in the above photos. More kebayas at this site.

These kebaya blouses did not have any buttons, instead she used a set of kerosang (three brooches) to hold the blouse together. The kerosang is also considered as jewellery, often made in gold and intan (rose-cut diamonds).

I use to watch her on her sewing machine making the embroidery. Back then, I was too young to have that determination to learn. It was difficult because although you used a sewing machine, you had to guide the needle manually to where it should go with the help of an embroidery frame, not the programmable machines that we have today.


  1. These ARE gorgeous and very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  2. How beautiful! I love the blouse. I have a sort of technical question. Do the brooches that hold the blouse closed actually pierce the fabric? If not how does it work? And if so, doesn't that cause deterioration over time (even a short time since the work seems so delcate)?

  3. Yes, they are gorgeous. To answer Annie's question, the brooches do pierce the fabric. I think the brooches should be placed on the fabric with none or less embroidery. That's a good question, I never really thought of it. Perhaps these elaborately embroidered kebayas are only worn once or twice.

  4. These are amazing. I don't know what else to say!

  5. What beautiful clothing. I would feel so special in them.