5222

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Straits Chinese Embroidered & Couched Wedding Slippers

probably Malacca, Malay Peninsula or Singapore
early 20th century

length: 26.6cm

Sold

Provenance

UK art market

This pair of wedding slippers most probably was intended for a groom, on account of their larger size. They are in near-pristine condition, and are exceptionally finely decorated with embroidery, bullion knot work, knot stitching, couching, and applied gold metal sequins. The intricacy of the motifs and tightness of design is among the finest we have seen. Peonies and phoenixes have been embroidered on against a ground of densely packed couched silver or gold metallic thread.

The soles are lined with thick brown leather, with no significant heel, and the interiors are lined with fine red leather and red cotton along the sides.

The pair is also highly unusual in that they have pairs of long cotton ribbons attached to the back of each which presumably would have been tied around the front of the shins to keep the slippers on.

Each also has a small padded pillow that is stuffed into the toes to better preserve their shapes when not in use.

It is remarkable and unusual that both these elements are still intact and have not been removed or lost.

The pair are exceptionally fine and in excellent condition.

References

Cheah, H.F., Phoenix Rising: Narratives in Nyonya Beadwork from the Straits Settlements, NUS Press, Singapore, 2010.
Cheah, H.F, Nyonya Needlework: Embroidery and Beadwork in the Peranakan World, Asian Civilisations Museum, 2017.
Ho, W.M., Straits Chinese Beadwork & Embroidery: A Collector’s Guide, Times Books International, 1987.
Khoo, J.E., The Straits Chinese: A Cultural History, The Pepin Press, 1996.

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