These hairpins are known as 'korek kuping', which literally means ‘ear picks’. They were part of a set of three, which includes one hairpin with a decorative top. A Peranakan woman, also known as Nonya, would traditionally tie her waist-long hair into a coiled bun, which would be held in place with hairpins. The common practice in Malacca and Singapore was to use three pins whereas in Penang, up to seven hairpins were used. As the bun was worn high near the top of the head and was wound very tightly, older Nonyas face gradual hair loss, receding hairlines, and bald spots. By the 1930s, hairpins were no longer relevant to the younger Nonyas who cut their hair according to the latest Western fashions.

Late 19th-early 20th century
Singapore or Malacca
refer to parts
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. Edmond Chin