Sunday, February 4, 2007

Nonya Beaded Shoes

My nonya (or nyonya) mother, who is a skilled beader, embroidered tiny seedbeads on to the tops of these beautiful shoes for me (lucky me!) She uses just one diagonal of the cross-stitch embroidery style to attach each bead to the aida cloth, taking great care to keep her tension even. She is a great inspiration to all as she is still beading well into her seventies.

beading project

Kasut manek or Kasut Eh (beaded shoes) are the traditional handicraft of Peranakan women which is still practiced today. Peranakan means "descendant" and this sub-cultural group hail from very early Chinese immigrants to South East Asia who sometimes intermarried into the local Malay population. The women folk are known as nonya or nyonya which probably comes from the Portuguese word "dona' for lady. Their unique fusion culture (including Western influences) can be seen not only in their beadwork but also in many aspects of design such as their traditional dress (my grandmother was a superb machine embroiderer who made the nonya kebaya), jewelry, cuisine etc.

Young nonya women from the late 19th century to WWII were taught to sew and embroider in preparation for their eventual marriages. A nonya bride was expected to present several pairs of embroidered or beaded slippers to the groom's family on her wedding day.

Check out this great video on the art of nonya beaded shoes:

Beautiful pictures of beaded slippers
Nonya slippers circa 1900
Who are the Peranakan?
Nonya Kebaya
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 


Kirstine Lu said...

I'm just travelling around the world and am currently in Malaysia where I saw some Nyonya beaded slippers in the Penang museum. I became a bit obsessed by them, hence how I cam upon your blog entry. The pair that your Mother embroidered are beautiful - you are very lucky!

The Beading Gem said...

Thanks for dropping me a line! I know I am very, very lucky. Mum is making me a beaded bag now :-)

Anna said...

My grandma is a Nyonya. It's a pity I didn't get to pick up any of her beading skills. I wish U have a chance to learn to cook Nyonya food and make beaded shoes...

Lee said...

Hi there, actually i really interested to learn beading, and now searching for the place where got the beading classes. Do you have any idea? I'm from Klang.

The Beading Gem said...

Do you mean beading as in beaded cross stitch as shown in these shoes or beading as in jewelry making?

Anonymous said...


DatukGoh said...

My mother who recently passed away left me her beaded shoes which she wore on her wedding.

The Beading Gem said...

That's to be treasured! I too was given my grandmother's beaded shoes which she made for her own wedding.

Althea said...

Hi dear I knw it's few yrs back ur post but I wanna ask if u are able to share the template of the shoe faces? Like what is the correct template.. I tried asking around but no one is able to help.. Could u please help??

Pearl Blay said...

My elderly mother doesn't make the shoes anymore. Best thing is to go to a cobbler and get the right template from him to be sure the beaded pattern will fit.

Also check out this blog post and the comments at the bottom - where you can contact someone in Malaysia who might be able to help -

Failing that, if you are making a soft pair of shoes for yourself entirely from scratch, adapt from an existing pattern. The shoe can be of any style.

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