The kebaya is an open tunic with long sleeves, a collarless neck and front opening. It is a hip-length garment and is gently shaped to flatter the figure. This white kebaya is made from voile and is decorated with embroidery, hence the name kebaya sulam. It is decorated with embroidered orange flowers separated by chicken wire mesh cutwork on the neckline, front lapels, bottom of the sleeves and the edge of the lapik, which refers to the triangular panels covering the wearer’s lap. Different degrees of coloured thread are used to create a more naturalistic tone for the motifs. The use of embroidery on the kebaya allowed Nyonyas to have greater leeway to customise their own individual piece, so that the chances of them wearing an identical piece with someone else were greatly reduced. Being of a translucent material, this garment would have been worn with an inner, possibly long-sleeved undershirt.

Straits Settlements and Indonesian Archipelago
Gross measurement: 71 x 135 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Peranakan Museum
Credit Line
Gift of Mr and Mrs Lee Kip Lee
Garments and Accessories