To the uninitiated, Peranakan clothing doesn’t look all that different from traditional Malay clothing. However, while it looks cut from the same cloth, Peranakan clothing incorporates several aspects of Chinese traditional clothing styles with intricate patterns and vibrant colours. While looking fashionable was an important aspect, especially among the young Nyonyas, their costumes remained practical to suit the Malaysian climate and conditions.
The Nyonya’s would wear a long dress called Baju Panjang which was adapted from the native Malay’s Baju Kurung, that is worn with a sarong, a batik printed wrap-around skirt and 3 kerosang (brooches). Initially, the baju panjang was made of cotton, eventually it was made of silk.
For formal occasions, a batik or Chinese silk handkerchief is tucked into the right or left shoulder of the attire. Their hair would be tied up in a tight bun called a sanggul nyonya.
At the base of the bun is a thin garland of jasmine flowers. The Bibiks let their hair down only during the night when they went to bed.
By the late 1920s the Nyonyas started wearing the kebaya, a traditional blouse-dress worn with a sarong or batik kain panjang, with a colorful motif. The embroidered blouse is worn over batik sarongs with floral designs. It is shorter than the baju panjang.
The Peranakan beaded slippers are called Kasot Manek, they are hand-made and a lot of skill goes into it.
Traditional kasot manek slipper designs often have European floral motifs, with colours influenced by Peranakan porcelain and batik sarongs. They were made into flats or bedroom slippers. But from the 1930s, modern shapes became popular and heels were gradually added.
The colourful Kebayas were embroidered, tailored which used bold colour combinations and an array of Chinese symbolic decorations.
The men usually wore baju lok chuan, a long-sleeved silk jacket and comfortable loose-fitting trousers. Later, they converted to a baju tutu.
Peranakan batik associated with Indonesian culture. The word “batik” originates from the Javanese-Indonesian word “amba” means draw and “tik” and means to dot.
Batik is generally used as a term that refers to a wax-resist fabric-dyeing technique and is quite synonymous with the clothing worn by the Nyonyas.
There are different processes of making batik which includes hand-drawn batik, stamp batik, and print. Each region has its own traditional pattern and batiks are distinguished by the region they originated in, such as batik Solo, batik Pekalongan, and batik Madura.
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