The Dying Art of Nyonya Kebaya

By Peter Soh

January 2024 FEATURE
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THE KEBAYA—a traditional blouse worn by women in Southeast Asia— has been jointly nominated in April 2023 by Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand to be included in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.The Kebaya is believed to have been first worn by the Javanese and Malaccans during the 15th and 16th century in tandem with the emergence of Islam in these areas. Later, various styles of the Kebaya emerged based on the wearer’s location and...

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  • [1] Lukman, C. C., Piliang, Y. A., & Sunarto, P. (2013). Kebaya Encim as the Phenomenon of Mimicry in East Indies Dutch Colonial’s Culture. Art and Design Studies, 13, 15-22.
  • [2]
  • [3] Endon, M. (2002). The Nyonya Kebaya: A Century of Straits Chinese Costume. Singapore: Periplus Editions.
Peter Soh

is a Peranakan writer who is very interested in exploring the discourse and identity of the Chinese Peranakan. One of his Peranakan short stories was featured in the Emerging Malaysian Writers 2018 anthology. He is currently the Head of Humanities in Maple Leaf Kingsley International School, and teaches Sociology.