A swatch of the rich jewellery works of Peranakan people.
The Peranakan community in Malaysia are renowned for their distinct culture which is celebrated in various ways. In celebration of the upcoming “Treasures of the Peranakan World & Straits Chinese” asset auction, here’s our first stop at an important aspect of the Baba Nyonya culture – the jewellery.
According to Henry Bong, the guest curator of the forthcoming auction, a traditional nyonya would possess a wide range of jewellery that is usually exhibited on herself as an indication of wealth and position at weddings and other social occasions. These trinkets would also feature exquisite precious stone embellishments placed on precious metals such as gold and silver, as well as brass.
Although gold is the preferred metal for jewelleries during festive occasions and weddings – especially on the bride – trinkets are also used during the mourning period after a death but only in silver and embedded with pearls.
Peranakan jewellery encompasses a wide range of items, including hair pins, earrings, necklaces, bangles, anklets (gelang kaki), brooches (kerongsang ibu & anak, kerongsang pin), belts, chain-link evening purses, key holders, amulet holders and even modesty covers (caping) for very young children.
It is must be noted that although the upcoming auction is not able to feature the Peranakan jewellery register in its entirety, a lot of effort has been taken to present a wide view of the rich trinket culture of the one-of-a-kind community. On that note, here are some of the lots that will be up for bidding.
AN ENSEMBLE OF FOUR SILVER GILT HAIR PINS SET WITH PRECIOUS STONES AND OF SIMILAR DESIGN
Circa mid-20th century
The four silver hair pins purportedly owned by a Peranakan family are of the Chitty Peranakan category. The stones set on the hair pins are indicated to us to be rubies but its authenticity has not been verified by any qualified gemmologists.
4 in. (11 cm) long for the longest hair pin;
3.6 in. (9.5 cm) long for the shortest hair pin
RM 4,000 – 5,000
SILVER GILT WEDDING NECKLACE
Five strands of different lengths form this elaborate chain of that period to create the necklace and is being constrained at the back of the neck level by two silver gilt panels with repousse work of floral design. The longest and lowest hung chain has dangling tassels for an extra dramatic effect. Necklaces like these have been photographed being worn by Malay and Nyonya brides at the turn of the century
Dimensions: 16 in. (41 cm) long
RM 1,000 – 1,500
SILVER GILT KERONGSONG TOH IBU & ANAK
The silver filigree ibu consists of a peach shaped filigree structure with two birds, one at the bottom and another at the top of the piece. Two prawns frame the upper shape of the ibu piece.
The two anak kerongsangs are mere circles with filigree florets like a garland. The ibu piece has rubbed stamps that indicate its pure silver content in Chinese. The pins which are of pure silver and of Chinese workmanship appears to have been altered for convenience of use.
Ibu: 2.5 in. (6.5 cm) long
Anak: 1 in. (3 cm) wide
RM 1,000 – 1,500
For more information on the upcoming auction, click here.
For the online catalogue to view all of the lots, click here.