20 Nov 2015: Straits Chinese Embroidery & Beadwork

straits chinese embroideryThe magic of the needle and the mystery of the motifs have mesmerized many. Silks and beads work together to evoke the majesty, pomp and ceremony of an era…they invoke celestial collaboration of cosmic proportions to procure heaven’s blessings on earth. The beauty, romance, and wonder of an era, are bound to the Straits Chinese, beautifully preserved and gently laid on silks and velvets.—Lillian Tong

Straits Chinese Embroidery & Beadworkis a tribute to the extensive examples of Peranakan bead-works, from exquisite beaded slippers—kasot manek—and opulent tapestries and wedding ornamentation, to the daintiest personal items such as clutch bags and purses.

The sumptuously-illustrated book serves both as an informative pictorial and historical guide to the magnificent and valuable collection of Straits Chinese art history, priceless craft, textiles and needle-craft of the Straits Chinese community housed at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. Its contents, viewed from the perspective and interpretation of a Straits Chinese, are based on research, personal communications, interviews, verifications, and recollections from Babas and Nonyas from Penang and Singapore.

straits chinese beadwork-coll-1Peranakan heritage, which dates back to the early 15th century, is a fusion of both Chinese and European inspiration and influences. Although interest in Peranakan arts and crafts has waxed and waned over the years, collectibles have never truly fallen out of demand. Instead, their increasing rarity has resulted in escalating values as connoisseurs and collectors fight over the most obscure and original pieces.

Silk threads and glass beads in the Straits Chinese embroidery and bead work has persisted through the rise and fall of civilizations, kings and kingdoms, traversed the maritime silk route and weathered world wars. Through centuries, each stitch and bead composed and articulated in embroidery, in turn, fashioned societies, cultures, and the people they encountered. My research and writing has buoyed me along this same incredible and magical journey of explorations and expeditions, exploits and escapades, traversing time and oceans.—Lillian Tong, author

Straits Chinese Embroidery & Beadwork was launched on 30 Sept 2015 by HRH Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion.