VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Beadwork tablecloth
2006-01927
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This beadwork tablecloth from Penang is one of the largest and most important pieces of Peranakan beadwork in existence, made up of over a million glass beads. It is likely that this piece was commissioned by a wealthy family for the twelve-day Peranakan wedding.

History of the Object
Over a million glass beads make up this tablecloth, the largest example of Peranakan beadwork known. It was probably used on a round table because of the circular arrangement of motifs in the centre. The highly original design shows various European and South American birds and flowers, with only a few Asian species. Parrots and macaws stand on branches with butterflies and dragonflies hovering nearby. The tropical hibiscus and pineapple can be seen along with the many European flowers. The combination of pink and yellow on a turquoise ground is characteristic of Penang Peranakan beadwork. During the 12-day Peranakan wedding, the family would decorate the table with prized pieces of silver and porcelain, as well as gifts and, of course, food. This cloth could have been commissioned from professional beadworkers working in special workshops locally or in China. The beads on the tablecloth are European.

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Type
Textile 
Materials
Glass beads, cotton 
Measurements
H 170.0cm x W 160.0cm (with fringe) 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Penang 
Geography
Malaysia 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
Early 20th century 
Function
This piece of beadwork was commissioned for a Peranakan wedding to be used as a decorative tablecloth. It would adorn the spring table (choon tok in Baba Malay) in the wedding chamber of a Penang Peranakan bridal couple.  
Acquisition
 
Copyright
Peranakan Museum, Singapore 
Acknowledgements
Jackie Yoong and Maria Khoo Joseph 
Owner
Peranakan Museum, Singapore 
Museum
Peranakan Museum, Singapore 
Credit line
Restoration sponsored by BNP Paribas Foundation and BNP Paribas Singapore Branch 

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