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. Most of the garment is decorated with embroidered floral motifs while there is a concentration of cutwork floral motifs on the lapik, which refers to the two triangular panels that cover the wearer’s lap. 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.

1950s or 1970s
Straits Settlements and Indonesian Archipelago
Gross measurement: 76.5 x 121.5 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Peranakan Museum
Credit Line
Gift of Mr and Mrs Lee Kip Lee
Garments and Accessories

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