Inventory no.: 3724

Straits Chinese Beaded Wedding Purse


Beaded Nonya Wedding Wallet

Peranakan or Straits Chinese Community, Malaysia & Singapore

circa 1900

width: 17cm, height: 10.5cm

This purse or wallet in the style of a clutch purse most probably was intended as a wedding wallet to be used in the elaborate and lengthy wedding rituals of the Straits or peranakan Chinese of the Malay Peninsula and Singapore.

It comprises stiff maroon velvet with blue edging. The exterior is decorated with rocaille beads and sequins on both sides with a continuous penal that features a phoenix and peony patterns within a border of butterflies, crabs, fish, phoenixes and centipedes – all auspicious motifs for a

peranakan wedding.

Related wallets are illustrated in Ho (1987, p. 83).

Rocaille beads were made in southern France and were widely used in Singapore and the other Straits Settlements for beading slippers, wedding pillow ends, betel set mats and other paraphernalia associated with baba/nonya culture. The Straits Chinese referred to the beads as

manek potong (‘cut beads’) and acquired them from street peddlers and specialist merchants for the purpose of beading and embroidery.

The example here is in fine condition. There is some wear to the blue edging and some losses to the sequins. The beads themselves all appear to be intact.


Cheah, H.F., Phoenix Rising: Narratives in Nyonya Beadwork from the Straits Settlements, NUS Press, Singapore, 2010.

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.

Wee, P.,

A Peranakan Legacy: The Heritage of the Straits Chinese, Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2009.


UK art market

Inventory no.: 3724