Saturday, November 19, 2016

Kebaya Nyonya

When the Nyonyas, the women of the early Peranakan community, first donned the baju panjang, the long Arab-inspired top made of woven cotton, little did they know that this garment would become the Malaysian fashion icon.

Once traditional, plain and straight in cut, facilitated by the availability of new fabrics, the baju panjang gradually evolved into more comfortable garment as compared to its highly starched predecessor. With the hot climate and their exposure to European blouses and lace, the practical Nyonyas shortened the dress top to hip length and enhanced its beauty with lace trimming along the fringes of the tunic.

Heavily embroidered kebayas are usually worn during festive gatherings while simple scallop-edged ones are for daily activities. White, blue and green ones are reserved for mourning or to attend wakes.

This lovely piece of art is traditionally worn with matching batek sarong and beaded slippers, and is fastened with a set of chained kerongsang (also known as kerosang), a costume jewelry that functions like a brooch.


Date of Issue : 2 Nov 2002
Postmark : Kuala Lumpur
Denomination : 2 x 30 sen and 2 x 50 sen
Stamp Size : 28.5mm x 42.6mm
Paper : SPM Watermarked, Phosphor Coated
Printing Process : Lithography


A book entitled The Nyonya Kebaya was published in 2004 recording the lovely kebayas collection of the late YAB Tun Endon Mahmood, late wife of the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia YAB Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

More details on this book can be found here.

(Image from

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