When I got married, I suppose the hubs and I came as close as we could to preserving our individual heritage. I am of Dutch-Indonesian Chinese descent, while my mother-in-law is pure Peranakan, and father-in-law is Chinese Indonesian.
Most Peranakans are of Hoklo (Hokkien) ancestry, although a sizable number are of Teochew or Cantonese descent. Originally, the Peranakan were mixed-race descendants, part Chinese, part Malay/Indonesian.
I am so fortunate to still be able to enjoy the dishes which I grew up with right now, because my mother-in-law cooks the most awesome Peranakan dishes, with each dish bearing the familiar memories of childhood. Our two extended families are able to understand distinctive practices and norms, because there are common threads which bind us.
The Indonesian kebaya and Peranakan kebaya have been worn for centuries, and bear striking similarities apart from a few variants. A kebaya is used for semi-formal to formal functions, and a casual vs. a formal kebaya is distinguished by its embroidery, brocade, and the richness of the sarong which is worn with it.
"...The quintessential kebaya is the Javanese kebaya as known today is essentially unchanged as noted by Raffles in 1817.It consists of the blouse (kebaya) of cotton, silk, lace, brocade or velvet, with the central opening of the blouse fastened by a central brooch (kerongsang) where the flaps of the blouse meet.
The blouse is commonly semi-transparent and worn over the torso wrap or kemben. The skirt or kain is an unstitched fabric wrap around three metres long. The term sarong in English is erroneous, the sarung (Malaysian accent: sarong) is actually stitched together to form a tube, like a Western dress- the kain is unstitched, requires a helper to dress (literally wrap) the wearer and is held in place with a string (tali), then folded this string at the waist, then held with a belt (sabuk or ikat pinggang), which may hold a decorative pocket.
... In Java, Bali and Sunda, the kain is commonly batik which may be from plain stamped cotton to elaborately hand-painted batik tulis embroidered silk with gold thread.
In the Malacca region, a different variety of kebaya is called "nyonya kebaya" worn by those of Chinese ancestry: the Peranakan people. The Nyonya kebaya is different in its famously intricately hand-beaded shoes (kasut manek) and use of kain with Chinese motive batik or imported printed or hand-painted Chinese silks." - source: Kebaya
An Indonesian kebaya was part of my wedding trousseau, and worn during the tea ceremony.
|Hand embroidered kebaya and sarong (left)|
Intricate hand-made bead slippers (kasut manek).
|My mother-in-law and I in the traditional Nonya Kebaya.|
I'm in love with the current 'heritage trend'. Suddenly it's so 'in' to be seen wearing traditional clothes. It’s cool without making me look like I've tried to hard to be sexy; it’s feminine, and it's easy to wear. Best of all... it hides all those post-baby bulge(s)!