RRP: USD $55 – TAASA Review June 2011
Embroidery is often viewed as a craft worth noting for its aesthetic qualities; to some it offers a glimpse into the dexterous workmanship of anonymous women of past ages.
Phoenix Rising by Hwei-Fe’n Cheah is a welcome book that not only allows the reader to feast on the material objects created by Peranakan Chinese women of the Straits Settlement and Sumatra.
More importantly, this exquisitely photographed and presented book takes the reader way beyond the specialized practice of beadwork by using this art form as a means of exploring cultural identity formation. Cheah does this by deftly using her research tools to unravel the cultural fabric of Nyonya beadwork, exposing this material practice as compelling evidence of social, ritual, technological, political and economic aspects of Peranakan Chinese culture from the late 19th century until the 1970s...