Sunday, 25 March 2007

Peranakan footwear

On Friday we also had the pleasure of seeing the beaded slippers being hand made ........ talk about time and patience!!!!!

Western techniques also influenced the art and craft of fashioning Peranakan footwear. The style of embroidery for example, once influenced by the Malays was in turn influenced by Western culture. The fine beadwork for shoes with which the Nyonya is identified with is a comparatively recent invention from 19th century Britain and Continental Europe.

The most popular Nyonya object still found today is of course the beaded slipper, or Manek Eh in Hokkien, the lingua franca of the Peranakan. The technique of making such footwear is also one of the few crafts left over from the golden age of the Nyonyas. Amazingly, beaded slippers and makers are still available today, and courses are offered on fashioning them. In this day and age of modern ready-made footwear and hip designer brands, hand made beaded slippers are still sought after as a necessary luxury.

For those unfamiliar with the wardrobe of a Peranakan woman, beaded slippers were elegant and delicate looking footwear made from fabrics like velvet or gauze, and decorated with tiny colourful beads, and gold and silver coloured thread. Needless to say, the finished product never failed to look stunning. Such shoes were de rigueur for social occasions like weddings and reunions and woe betide a Nyonya who wore anything else with her coiffed hair, accessories, kebaya labuh or Nyonya kebaya! After the shoes are used, they are carefully put away and wrapped in layers of soft, non-abrasive paper until the next special occasion. Beaded slippers are very fragile, and any break in the thread will slowly unravel the entire tapestry.

Not surprisingly, crafting a well-made pair of beaded slippers was a time consuming affair, and the 'face' for each pair could take several months to complete. The maker had to possess an infinite amount of patience and perseverance, a steady hand, good eyesight and of course a flair for aesthetic creativity.

On Friday when we spoke with the lady making the slippers, she told us that each pair take approx two months to complete and the cost can be from $250.00 up to about $1000.00. Well there could be more expensive ones, but the above is what I saw them priced at.

1 comment:

Crazy X-Stitcher Etc said...

Imagine me wearing my 2 months worth of work that cost $1000. I'll probably keep it in my display counter.

Hello Leone, found you on NNC. :-)

my site :