Friday, July 08, 2005

ShooStories: Beaded baba (or alternatively titled, The Lengths a Girl Goes to Get Shoos)

#15

The Shoo: Perenakan Beads
Circa: Ordered Jan/Feb 1998, picked up 2000
Where: Little shop in Malacca, Malaysia

The Story: As a possible throwback to my Perenakan roots, I'd always wanted to get the full Perenakan outfit. I've always liked the whole baju-getup: the translucent lacy blouse, the batik skirt, the elaborate kerongsang and gold chain belt, and of course the beaded shoos. But all the places I knew of in Singapore charged incredibly high prices (I think around $400) for a decent pair. So when I heard there was an authentic little shop in Malacca which custom-made these kinds of shoos at an affordable price, I inviegled my father to drive me to Malacca to check out the shop.

I don't remember much about the drive there, where the shop is or even what it looks like, but I do remember it was on a narrow street in a little shophouse. Very old school, y'know. We discovered, to my horror, that the wait for a pair of shoos was 2 years. Yes, not two weeks or two months, two years; the waiting list was that long and I soon discovered the reason why. The only person who could make the shoos (ie sew all the beads on) was this little old man in a pair of thick-rimmed glasses which took up half his face. There was another option of buying ready-made pairs where you could pick out pre-sewn beaded panels and wait about two weeks while it was attached to the heel. But the beads used in these were too big and coarse, and didn't come in closed-toe versions, which was what I wanted.

I decided to do the two year wait, and set about picking a design from a fat folder of photos. There were phoenixes, various flowers in a myriad of different coloured backgrounds, but I eventually settled on a design of butterflies and roses against a black background, 'cos black goes with everything, y'know.

And then came the long wait. While my mother was more concerned that we wouldn't get the shoos after having paid for them, I was more worried that the little old man would just keel over before he got round to making mine. Yes, he looked that old. But happily, as you can very obviously see by the pictures, I got my shoos just fine. When I went to collect them two years later, the place looked exactly the same and the little old man was still in his corner on his bench making more beaded slippers. Oh, and I think this story also illustrates how rabid I am about shoos.

Bonus!

I am starting to realise I own a lot of things with butterflies on them

17 comments:

Woof! said...

lacy... transluscent... yums! :D

anyways I was just going to remark that you really do love butterfly designs, but u admitted that already..

Ang Ku Kueh said...

two Years! *gasp* I'd collaspe from this wait, esp if i love the thing very much...proably wun sleep...u are strong, gal...

Fashionasia said...

holy schmolly....u waited 2 years??!!!! very patient la you.
Izzit very expensive??

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Given your expertise, can you tell me where Crocs shoes can be found in Singapore...?

Thnks,
OF

JellyGirl said...

Woof: Yes :) I was completely unaware of this hold butterflies have over my wardrobe. I think I will have to stop!

AKK & Fashion: Actually the wait didn't seem that long. It was hard for the first couple of months because I kept thinking of them, but after a while I completely forgot about them. Nah, it wasn't very expensive, about S$200.

OF: Hello, I'm so flattered you're taking me as some shoe expert here ;), but unfortunately I have not come across any Crocs shoes in S'pore. However, you can check their site and find out? There's a number you can call. Good luck with the Crocs!

KayuWangi said...

2 yrs?! Wah. You are a patient nonya. I've always walked past that shop, but never walked in.

Then again, I can never understand the love for shoes women have :D

My mum use to sew these beaded shoes when when she was young, never appreciated them. But I hear the beads she used are very rare now.

the baker said...

heya jellygirl! you are really one patient person. but you're right, getting those peranakan beaded shoes from malacca is much much cheaper than locally. the last time i went there, i visited this quaint little shop which was based at their home and there were sooo many shoes to choose from! and of course, i couldn't wait that long... but man, i'm peranakan too and have been wanting to get a traditional typical beaded shoe and the whole get-up but the top can be quiet ex... because of the intricate embriodery.. where did you get yours?

hey OF, i have a list of the retailers who stock Crocs shoes, you want? let me know ya? because it's a really long list...

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you speak the language too, but it's spelt *kerosang*. not kerongsang, i don't recall my family calling them keRONGsnag. only non-peranakans spell that way. and if your female, it's nyonya - as opposed to nonya. or baba! oh and don't you think it's more appropriate with "beaded nyonya"?

don't embarass the rest of us the more pure blooded types.

JellyGirl said...

Kayu: Yes the original beads are very rare and are really expensive now (I think they're called 'potong'). I knew someone who sewed a few pairs, but she had to stop after a while because she said they were killing her eyes.

Baker: I haven't gotten the top yet, as like you said, it's so expensive! I always walk by the shop at the Esplanade and dream of tailoring an outfit there one day! There's also another shop I found in KL at the Bangsar Shopping Centre which has some beautiful tops with intricate embroidery, but again, sooo expensive. One day, one day! :)

Anon: I apologise if I have offended your sensibilities. I never knew how to spell 'kerosang' and only spelt it as I heard it, so I stand corrected.

As to the 'baba' bit, I am aware that babas are males and nyonyas are female, but I wanted the word to rhyme. On second thought, I should have written 'bibik'.

Samantha said...

Ever notice that needlessly rude comments are always left anonymously?

The irony is that Anon in his/her bigotry quite ignores the fact that saying "pure blood Peranakan" is an oxymoron, considering the first Peranakans were the furthest thing from pure blooded. It is the mix of cultures and, yes, races that gives Peranakan culture its individuality.

In other words, get over yourself. :P

Anonymous said...

Samantha - I meant "pure blooded Peranakans" as in not tainted with more chinese - ie: non-Peranakan ancestry - blood. Jellygirl didn't take offense with my anonymity I wonder why you did. You needn't give a lecture on what makes a Peranakan. If you are so aware of our history, the correct term is Orang Baba or Orang Nyonya. Only in Singapore we are known as Peranakan, which is actually partially incorrect. Calling yourself simply as Peranakan anywhere in Malaysia would be met with stares.

My apologies to Jellygirl for hitting the Anonymous thing without signing off first. btw, Rumah Bebe had a sale end of may on kebayas: http://www.rumahbebe.com

Rita

the baker said...

ahhh yes the one at esplanade! i too have dreamt of stepping into that shop and have one tailormade for me. alas... it remains but a dream for now! haha... i've never owned one before...

oh anyways, OF, if you're reading this, i've posted about crocs and listed the stores where you can get them:
http://silverydaze.blogspot.com/2005/07/purple-crocs-for-purple-fanatic-these.html

hope that helps!

aye* lighten up people... doesn't matter about being pure peranakans or not... it's fine to learn the accurate details of the culture, no? but then again, i used to use the term Baba when I was younger, and my friends all looked at me weirdly and teased me about being 'baba black sheep'. lol.. come to think of it... it's intriguing. but i love the culture anyway.. esp the food! ayam buah keluak all the way! cheers! =)

Anonymous said...

You should try sewing your own, it's not difficult, need mainly patience. That way you can create your own designs.
NC

JellyGirl said...

NC: That would be a very good plan, except I'm hopeless at sewing. I was the only one in my Home Econs class who couldn't finish the skirt we were supposed to sew. :)

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi, just saw the your "Shoes Story", just wondering if that store in Malaysia still around, be wonderful if you can give me some infor, Thanks for the precious time, And well, thats a pair of beautiful Pair of shoes, if you don mind, can email me at "whereisgiraffewhere@yahoo.com.sg", thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hello I've read your article on bead shoe and I must say that it is really inspiring. :-) I am very proud of my culture and I am one of the few who still keep the tradition of making Nyonya bead shoe alive. I do give classes on how to make nyonya bead shoes and I also make to sell them. If interested to learn or order bead shoes, you are most welcome to call me at the following number +6017-6359928 on my handphone. My name is Winnie.