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
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