This pair of man’s slippers was collected in the early 20th century in what was then Malaya. The pair might have been made locally or might have been imported from China. They are to the tastes of the sinkeh Chinese (the unacculturated, local Chinese) rather than to Straits Chinese tastes, but might still have been intended as part of the dress of a Straits Chinese groom for example during the lengthy wedding festivities which often involved several changes of dress. The wedding costumes of both Straits Chinese brides and grooms was based on 19th century wear of China’s Qing royal court.
The slippers are covered in bright orange silk and have been embroidered in multi-coloured thread with butterflies and flowers.
The leather soles have been hand-stitched on and show no signs of wear. Each is marked with what seems to be a code for a size and the word ‘plus’ in Chinese script.
The slippers are in perfect condition and do not seem to have ever been used.
collected by Alwyn Sidney Haynes (1878-1963), and thence by descent. Haynes was a colonial administrator in Malaya and the Straits Settlements between 1901 and 1934. He held many posts including Acting British Resident, Pahang (1924); British Resident, Perak (1925); British Advisor, Kedah (1925); British Advisor, Kelantan (1930); and Acting Colonial Administrator, Straits Settlements (1933), after which he retired and returned to England, and lived near Stratford-upon-Avon, and then in Leamington Spa. Haynes loaned some of the items he collected in Malaya to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford in 1939. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1950.
Ho, W.M., Straits Chinese Beadwork & Embroidery: A Collector’s Guide, Times Books International, 1987.