Melaka woman tirelessly teaches how to make Nyonya ‘kasut manik’ to preserve Peranakan art

Parvi (left) with her pair of beaded shoes and Ong teaching her students a cross-stitch method. — Photos via Parvi Mudaliar/Ong Bee Hong

By Anne Grace Savitha

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 10:12 AM MYT

PETALING JAYA, June 13 – Ong Bee Hong, a Malacca, enjoys teaching the intricacies of Nyonya beaded shoemaking to anyone, as long as they are willing to put in their time and effort.

Ong, a home-based custom beaded shoe maker or ‘Kasut Manik‘ have made these shoes for weddings and even for overseas customers from as far away as the UK.

Based in Malacca, Ong does ‘Kasut Manik‘ in different styles ― ranging from flower patterns, animal patterns, geometric patterns or any other pattern that comes to mind.

For the past five years, she has also taught the art to organizations such as the Malacca Cancer Society and members of the Persatuan Peranakan Cina Melaka (PPCM)―to preserve her heritage.

For a next Manik Exhibition In an effort to preserve Peranakan culture, Ong was tasked with teaching around 40 students of all age groups and racing in the art of cross-stitch beadwork using simple geometric designs or floral.

The exhibition, which will take place on June 19 at the PPCM building, aims to showcase the work of its students’ beaded shoes which they have been working on since January this year.

Students pay RM50 for tuition including materials, while the rest was sponsored by the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana).

“A pair of beaded Nyonya shoes is always amazed for its beauty and elegance – and it takes a lot of effort and time from my students.

“Most of the students are working adults or retirees who are interested in this unique art and I have taught them using the simple beaded cross stitch method.

“But I am strict in my classes and tell my students that they have no right to give up making their first pair of beaded shoes, no matter how difficult the process.

“Most of the time, I can tell the difference when a student quickly completes a sewing method and leaves out important details,” she said. malaysian mail.

She added that as a teacher she taught them basic cross stitch with beads using a pattern and used ‘Manik Kasar‘ on a polyester material to make it easier for students to create shapes.

Parvi (left) with her pair of beaded shoes and Ong teaching her students a cross-stitch method. — Photos via Parvi Mudaliar/Ong Bee Hong

She’s proud that most of her students didn’t drop out halfway through class and were geared towards finishing their shoes.

Once the students completed their beaded cross stitch designs on the polyester material, it was then sent to a cobbler to be designed into a shoe shape.

“Beaded shoes should be learned by anyone interested. It’s the only way the art won’t fade away.

“And I enjoyed the experience of teaching with my students and forging friendships with them – that’s something money can’t buy,” she said.

Learn patience and precision

Malacca-based retiree Parvi Mudaliar was one of the students at the manik workshop. Initially, she only knew that beaded shoes were highly sought after and expensive.

But that changed when she took the workshop earlier in January, as she learned that precision and patience were important qualities to have when working on a pair of shoes.

“It made me appreciate manual labor and the people behind it.

“I also discovered that a pair of beaded shoes is a craft that has the power to bring people and communities together to preserve its dying art,” she said.

Parvi added that it was important to get to know the culture of other communities by taking the time to learn more about their art as it creates respect for each other.

She is now working on her second ‘Kasut Manik‘associate using’manik halus‘ In place.

The next Manik Exhibition will take place at the PPCM building from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Other manik-based items reportedly on display include antique beads and beaded bags.

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