What am I?

Riddle

I come in a pair
That the dainty wear
Embroidered in thread
Of silver, gold or red

Adorned with shiny beads
Colourful and tiny as seeds
Flat or set on high heels
Wear me and elation feels

I flatter all who slip me on
Kebayas and sarongs worn
Match your favourite colours
Admire your finery for hours

Can you guess what I am?
I am a pair of Peranakan beaded shoes.

An original riddle by
Khor Hui Min
27 June 2014

Beads to be sewn into traditional peranakan or nyonya beaded slippers
Beads to be sewn into traditional Peranakan or nyonya beaded slippers
Beaded work to be sewn into traditional peranakan or nyonya beaded slippers
Beaded work to be sewn into traditional Peranakan or nyonya beaded slippers

The Peranakan community, also popularly referred to as the Baba-Nyonya, is unique and only found in certain parts of Asia. In the Malay Peninsular, the community is commonly centred around the former British Straits Settlements of Penang (northern), Melaka (central) and Singapore (southern). The community came into being when Chinese traders married the local Malay women and settled down in the area, which is mainly why the communities are found largely in regions with ports. The ladies were referred to as ‘nyonya’, while the men were referred to as ‘baba’.

The origin of the Peranakan beaded slippers can be traced back to the early 20th century. Back then, the beaded slippers were worn by both men and women, but in modern times, only ladies wear them now. The beaded shoes were symbols of status, because they were handmade by highly skilled artisans,who took many hours to complete each pair. The shoes were worn by ladies to complement their ‘sarong kebaya’ outfit. Other adornments worn with the outfit include the ‘kerongsang’ (elaborate chained brooches) and a multitude of beautifully crafted jewellery.

A set of three chained brooches or 'kerongsang' worn by nyonya ladies. The 'kerongsang' is used to pin the embroidered kebaya blouse together (in place of modern buttons).
A set of three chained brooches or ‘kerongsang’ worn by nyonya ladies. The ‘kerongsang’ is used to pin the embroidered ‘kebaya’ blouse together (in place of modern buttons).

The three photos above were taken at the Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum, Melaka, Malaysia, on 6 December 2013.

To read up more on the Peranakan community and culture as well as their unique beaded shoes, see:
1. The Penang Heritage City website.
2. The Wikipedia page on Peranakan beades shoes.
3. The Wikipedia page on the Peranakan community.

To learn more about writing riddles, visit the Young Writers’ website.

 

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At the Cooler Lumpur Festival 2014

On Sunday, 22 June, I attended a writing workshop by Zen Cho entitled ‘Inspiration, Influence and Interaction’. The workshop was part of The Cooler Lumpur Festival 2014, which sought to bring together writers, musicians, filmmakers and artists from near and far. As with any hands-on workshop, we were required to actually do something, rather than sit and daydream :). We had a lot of fun brainstorming, thinking and discussing about ideas and stories.

The following poem was written in 10 minutes as the final writing activity in the workshop. I wrote the poem in the form of a modern haiku – in groups of 3 lines, with the first line having 5 syllables, the second line having 7 syllables, and the third line having 5 syllables. Not having written a haiku before, I thought it was a fun thing to do. I also wrote it in the style I like to call a ‘story poem’, where the entire story is told from beginning to end in the poem itself. 🙂

What am I to do?

In the dark canteen
Dreary and so depressing
Sat and lamented

What am I to do?
She has been locked up in jail
And I can’t help her

He stumbled outside
Pondering his dilemma
Oh, poor Clarissa!

He shuffled along
Just splashing into puddles
Ouch! He slipped and fell

He lay on his back
Cursing and cursing his fate
Oh, what shall he do?

Jake peered from above
The detective helped him up
“I found proof,” he said

Clarissa was free
Yes, they are reunited
Together at last

An original haiku by
Khor Hui Min
22 June 2014

Dumplings selling in a tiny shop lot in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur. Photo taken on 24 May 2014.
He sat and lamented in the dark and dreary canteen.

 

To find out more about Zen Cho, her writing as well as her books, visit her website zencho.org.

To check out the annual Cooler Lumpur Festival, visit the official website.