The Nyonyas adored jewellery! They were especially fond of gold and diamonds. Even their hairpins were ornate. By Nyonya standards, Chye Hoon is a sober character.


Nyonya tunics and blouses were secured by brooches called kerongsang. The brooches for baju panjang were circular (as in the photo of my great-grandmother) whereas the brooches on modern kebaya are elongated.  Below is a close-up photograph of a replica of a kerongsang.  

Kerongsang come in sets of three. There’s an order to how they should be fastened: the top brooch first. followed by the bottom brooch, and last of all, the middle brooch. 

In addition, Nyonyas wore all manner of earrings, rings, pendants, necklaces, bangles and bracelets. They also used belts to hold their sarongs up. Nyonya belts were beautiful objects, made to be admired, the body comprising interlocking rings or chains and decorated with the same motifs as on their sarongs: flowers, leaves and animals.


A modern belt, crafted from silver, is above. I find this a beautiful example, though Chye Hoon is likely to decry the workmanship!

Finally below... the pieces are put together: kebaya, sarong, kerongsang, beaded shoes and on her head a stunning chignon. This was how my model entranced the audience at my 2013 reading!