Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Heritage - Our Nyonyas

A Creation of passion, energy, artwork, LOVE magnified a person's idea into a fabulous lifestyle ever since long time ago.  A merged of different culture intricate the bonding of this special embroidery.  

In the olden days, a few hundred years ago, young girls are match off as bride  at their early age.  As early as when they reach the age of puberty.  Before they become a bride, they are trained to carry out household chores such as to cook, to clean,  to sew, and the young girls who come from the higher class of society are sent to school to continue their education.  So many skills to learn.  


Bonding between culture takes it's course naturally when the young lads  marry into different culture.  So their lifestyles also transform and made the best out of their bonding.  However the influence of Baba and Nyonya culture are still in bedded strongly in between the transformation.  For some say it's a tough life and some enjoys the diversity.  It's a matter of choice and personality.

After the number of years, we can now find many of our Baba and Nyonya live around the world.  Our ancestors, parent's heritage link back to either Penang, Melaka, Singapore, Indonesia.   

With tiny feet and bead work shoes, bead work handbags, hand sewn Nyonya Kebaya, our food recipe heritage, our furniture design, handicraft, way of life slowly were absorbed into society in many countries.  A bonding which manage to capture into the peoples' heart because of it's beauty from around the world.  


 
Living culture from generation to generation.                                           







If you are interested to find out more Nyonya Kebaya, please do not hesitate to buy a hardcover book titled The Nyonya Kebaya:  A Century of Straits Chinese Costume by Datin Seri Endon Mahmood (Oct 15, 2004).





Phoenix Rising: Narratives in Nyonya Beadwork from the Straits Settlements [Hardcover]

Hwei-Fe'n Cheah (Author)

Labour of LOVE


Try to read through the below websites to find out more if you have interest in Kebaya Nyonya.  Years of experience to reach such profile.



Labour of Love
http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/7/20/sundaymetro/1586974&sec=sundaymetro


Masters of Nyonya Embroidery Crafts - Mdm Lim Swee Kim
http://www.kraftangan.gov.my/craft_adiguru/details/21/?menuid=26



Britons amazed by Malaysia's Diversity dated 9 October 2012
http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/britons-amazed-by-malaysia-s-diversity-1.154429



Persatuan Baba & Nyonya KL Selangor dated 15 Jul 2012
http://www.peranakan-kl.org/?m=201007



News will be updated from time to time.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

The intrinsic of the sewing of a Nyonya's Kebaya takes a lots of skill, number of years of experience, creative ideas and time to make one.  A sample of a hand sewing Kebaya Nyonya from Penang, Malaysia. 

Long time ago it's a class of it's own.  Now it's a luxury to own a piece of these hand sewn dress.




The delicate sewing and the cuts made it special.  This piece belongs to a young girl age 12.  Made by her grandmother as a present for her.  Her grandmother is well known for her intrinsic work of sewing Nyonya's Kebaya in Malaysia located in Penang Island, Gurney Plaza, Kim Fashion. 

Not many of our Nyonyas nowadays can sewn their own dress not to say further whether they know how to sew a pieve of their own Nyonya's Kebaya.  Do not know how long more for these kind of special trade will survive.    I am for one who do not know how to sew too.



Style

How to wear a Nyonya's Kebaya?    It can be a formal attire for Corporate function or formal Official function, for it represents  a few cultures merged as one,  as a social class of luxury, or it can be worn as a casual piece of clothe. 

How you wear it for which ever function is important.  What type of accessories to match with it also applies. My grandmother always say, 'Sarong mesti di pakai betui. Jangan senggit.  Nanti malu di pandang orang'.   Already at the age of 93 now.  Still growing strong.  

This is a typical olden days Nyonyas way of style.  

The modern Nyonyas will wear their top piece with jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt like casual wear.  No Keronsang are pin to the piece.   No lapel too.   Free and easy.  Hardly can you find these too.

In the ancient China old days, we can see many Empress, princess, Lady's, Consort project their individual beauties and skill before becoming a selected bride through their sewing via their costumes, accessories, shoes, handkerchief, money pouch, bed covers and so forth.  



Colours

The colours of vibrance, the design, the method of application made it a beauty work of it's own.  A master piece.  

Why colours?  In the olden days, young Nyonyas are not encourage to wear black, total white  or dark blue colours as their attire.  As it will indicate they are either mourning a lost of their love ones within their families.  They are always encourage to wear bright vibrant colours like pink, red, gold, orange, lilac, light violet, apple green, yellow, light blue with many other bright colours.  Even if they like white, usually a touch of other colours are added to the Nyonyas' Kebaya design or motif.

However living in the modern era, the young Nyonyas prefer corporate colours like black, white, grey and so forth.  A style of each own preferences.

What more if you can own a piece of black and white Nyonya's Kebaya.  



Design / Motifs

The preferred design are usually flowers such as Peach blossom flowers, Rose flower, Chrysanthemum flowers, Daisy flowers, Peony flowers, Anthurium flowers, Daffodil flowers, Iris flower, Gardenia flower and so forth.
Nowadays flowers like Sunflower, Bird of paradise.  

We can also see designs such birds, phoenix, dragon, gold fish, Li fish, bat, a hundred children, fig, peaches. Which each of it represents a symbol for each of it's sewn design. 

Hardly will you be able to find these in the market.  If you ever find a piece of these Nyonyas' Kebaya in the market for auction, it's maybe at least fifty years old. 

Our Nyonyas' went through a few era in the olden days.  So at times, you may also find influence of British colonies design on their Nyonya's Kebaya.  Theme up with the colour and motif.  

We can find British ladies like to use laces.  So our Nyonyas apply the beauty following the fashion of the days too.  Challenging.  Only a few are able to carry out such exquisite taste.  By now maybe we can still find a piece of two of such design.  Maybe about a hundred years of age now if well preserved as a heritage by their family members and not buried or burn away during their wake ceremony.  As the preference are still the symbol which brings prosperity and longevity in their daily culture. 

If you want to know whether the piece of Nyonyas Kebaya is an antique, you will need to learn more of how it is sewn.  We can also find 'Ketuk lubang' technique on the olden days Nyonyas Kebaya. The old Nyonyas prefer to have the 'Ketuk lubang' too as a measurement of how well the cutting of their Kebaya are made into.   Like the princess cut technique on a well made dress or coat.  


Interesting culture as Nyonyas Kebaya design do carry it as a history of life through the techniques of sewing.  


If you like to understand more of the 'peranakan' or we called them the Straits Born, you can read through and find links of where you can order books written by our famous authors.  



Peranakan Chinese Porcelain: Vibrant Festive Ware of the Straits Chinese [Hardcover] Kee Ming-Yuet (Author), Lim Hock Seng (Author)


Click the image to learn more. Thank you.