The Peranankan peope are descendants of an
early Chinese community that settled in the
Malay archipelago since the 17th century.
Many were seafarers who traded between the
ports of southern China and those of
Southeast Asia. As Chinese women were by law
not allowed to leave their native country
until the middle of the 19th century, many
of these early traders married non-Muslim
natives of the Malay archipelago, such as
Balinese or Batak slaves. The earliest
Chinese Peranankan community can be found in
Peranakan beaded slippers, also known as
kasut manek, literally meaning shoe beads,
is a type of shoe that dates back to the
early twentieth century. It refers to beaded
slippers worn by a nyonya (Peranankan woman)
to complete her Sarong Kebaya outfit,
together with chained brooches (kerongsang)
and a silver belt (tali pinggan).
The slippers are made of size 13 or
smaller charlotte beads (manek potong).
Vintage kasut manek are intricate and finely
stitched, a testimony to the fine
workmanship of yesteryears. The intricacy
and fine workmanship of a pair of beaded
slipper is also a hallmark of highly
accomplished Peranakan women whose skills in
embroidery and beadwork are highly valued.
Adapted from Wikipedia and The
Peranankan Association of Singapore
It is from this rich culture of artistry,
colour and love for detail, that I was
influenced to embark on my first pair of
kasut manek. From that first manek, my fate
and love for beads was sealed.