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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 Malacca.

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.

The Manek Lady in Nonya Sarong Kebaya with her Kasut Manek

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Last Updated 09 January 2011
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