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Peranakan Embroidered Wedding Purse (Oh Pao)

Straits Chinese People, Malay Peninsula
circa 1900

height: 13.4cm, width: 10.2cm



collected by Alwyn Sidney Haynes (1878-1963), and thence by descent. Haynes was a colonial administrator in Malaya and the Straits Settlements between

This fine Straits Chinese wedding purse  (荷包) has been decorated in fine satin stitch work. The designs include flowers, birds and other small auspicious creatures against a dark background. Small metal spangles have also been incorporated into the design.

The reverse of the purse comprises a red velvet panel which is folded up over the top of the purse to create a loop through which a belt or sash can be passed.

The interior comprises one pocket.

Importantly, the purse is in excellent condition. There are no losses and no repairs.

Such purses were worn by the bride and the groom and would contain token coins to symbolise hoped-for prosperity and abundance. This example most probably was intended for a groom.


Cheah, H.F, Nyonya Needlework: Embroidery and Beadwork in the Peranakan World, Asian Civilisations Museum, 2017.

Ee, R., et al, Peranakan Museum A-Z Guide, Asian Civilisations Museum, 2008.

Ho, W.M., Straits Chinese Beadwork & Embroidery: A Collector’s Guide, Times Books International, 1987.

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