Phoenix Rising: Narratives in Nonya Beadwork from the Straits Settlements by Cheah Hwei-Fe’n
Publication year: March 2010/ 400 pages
ISBN: 978-9971-69-468-5 Paperback US$58.00 RM140.00
ISBN: 978-9971-69-516-3 Hardback US$78.00 RM185.00
Until the first half of the twentieth century, Nonya beadwork and embroidery were important means of textile decoration for the Peranakans, the acculturated Chinese settlers in the Straits Settlements and the Netherlands Indies. Intricate and visually distinctive, Nonya beadwork is now regarded as a visual marker of a quaint Peranakan past. Its amalgamation of local, Chinese, and European influences is seen as a testimony to the celebrated hybridity of the Peranakan heritage.
This book contributes to the scholarship of Southeast Asian textile history by focusing on the relatively neglected area of needlework, demonstrating its potential as a source of cultural and historical information. The book also expands the perspectives on Peranakan Chinese decorative art by focusing on the historicity of Nonya beadwork, both as object and activity, whereby beadwork becomes a tool to probe the social and symbolic world of the Peranakans.
By unravelling the history of Nonya beadwork through an analysis of the changes in the Peranakans’ attitudes towards beading and the modifications of techniques, designs, and styles in beadwork, this thesis reveals the shifting expressions of Peranakan culture and identity in the Straits Settlements as the Peranakan community engaged with modernity, gendered norms, and an ancestral heritage in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, expressions from which Peranakan culture is conceived of in the present.
The text is illustrated with 150 photographs of Nonya beadwork from museums and private collectors in Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States.
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