Inventory no.: 3276

Straits Chinese Nonya Kerosangs


Seven Silver Straits Chinese Kerosang Brooches

Singapore or Malaysia

early 20th century

diameters: 3.1cm-3.5cm, combined weight: 79g

This small collection of kerosangs or brooches that Straits Chinese (the localised Chinese) and Malay ladies used to pin their kebaya blouses closed in lieu of buttons comprises two sets of three brooches, and a single brooch.

All are gilded (gold plated) or were gilded in the past. The two sets of three are decorated with granulation work or faceted granulations. The single brooch is set with faceted zircons.

As Lee (2014) points out, the Straits Chinese are thought of as having copied the Malay habit of using such brooches but there is no indigenous tradition of pinning jewellery to clothing. Rather, the source of both habits probably was Europe with its long tradition of brooches.


Chin, E., Gilding the Phoenix: The Straits Chinese and their Jewellery, The National Museum Singapore, 1991.

Ho, W.M., S

traits Chinese Silver: A Collector’s Guide, Times International, 1984.

Lee, P.,

Sarong Kebaya: Peranakan Fashion in an Interconnected World 1500-1950, Asian Civilisations Museum, 2014.Provenance:

UK art market

Inventory no.: 3276