Embroidered Straits Chinese lantern covers are relatively rare – none appear to have been published. This pair would have decorated the lower parts of a pair of lanterns used to decorate the home as part of the elaborate Straits Chinese wedding ritual – which tended to go on for several days.
The covers are of pink damask silk and have been finely embroidered and couched in multiple colours and with gold thread with peonies, phoenixes, pomegranates, and other auspicious symbols meant to convey luck, prosperity and marital harmony appropriate for a wedding celebration.
The pink colour is a localised approximation for red (ang), which was considered by Chinese in China as a ‘lucky’ colour for weddings.
Each has embroidered turquoise edging.
Their form is of large tubes and they are embroidered all the way around.
They are excellent examples of Straits Chinese embroidery.
The pair here are in near-perfect condition.
They were part of the estate of an English colonial administrator who brought them back to England in the 1930s (or earlier) and have been in the UK ever since.
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.
Cheo, K.B., A Baba Wedding, Marshall Cavendish, 2009.
Chong, A., et al, Devotions in Desire: Cross Cultural Art in Asia – New Acquisitions, Asian Civilisations Museum, 2013.
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.
Khoo, J.E., The Straits Chinese: A Cultural History, The Pepin Press, 1996.
Liu, G., From the Family Album: Portraits from the Lee Brothers Studio, Singapore 1910-1925, National Heritage Board/Landmark Books, 1995.