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Woman's shoulder piece

National Heritage Board, Singapore

National Heritage Board, Singapore

Malacca or Singapore, late 19th or early 20th century
Silk velvet embroidered with silk floss (raised satin stitch), melon-form metal beads, metal purl, sequins, and glass beads; buttonhole stitched edges
Peranakan Museum [2005-01500-001]

The nyonyas in Malacca and Singapore wore arrow-shaped embroideries with their baju panjang blouse and sarong. They were draped over the shoulder with the pointed end to the front, probably inspired by the large handkerchiefs that doubled as key-holders.

Many shoulder-pieces (sangkut bahu) consist of two parts, but the rectangular upper panels may have also been worn on their own. Some surviving examples resemble Chinese women’s embroidered sleeve bands, suggesting that the latter may have provided models for the designs.

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  • Title: Woman's shoulder piece

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