Reading: Kebaya Tales

kebaya tales

Kebaya Tales by Lee Su Kim is collection of short stories which makes for a lovely bedtime read in one sitting, more anecdotal like how my grandmother and mother tells stories and recounting childhood days and growing up, sprinkled with magical photos of the sarong batik fabrics, beautiful accessories and the elaborate Korosang that holds the traditional top together.

I have my grandmother’s silver belts and over half a decade old sarongs still in good condition, time to get some traditional kebaya tops made. This book says the word Kebaya comes from a Portuguese word while other sources says it comes from the Arabic word for dress. Trade routes, sailors, and so many stories over sea and land – all a big part of my heritage, lineage and history. And the word Nonya comes from the Portuguese word for grandmother Nonna, the same in Italian. Anak in Peranakan means child in Malay and I’m lost in this web of language evolution, the different anecdotal colourful stories and I wish more books were written about it, given the lack of historical documentation.

My mother has similar stories of her Grandfather who was a Javanese sailor and came back about twice a year, sailing the spice routes. I didn’t really connect with my roots with this level of interest until I moved to Macau and started investigating Macanese food which is so similar to what Mum cooks at home and names in the cookbook so similar to the Malay names of dishes we eat.

Are you on Instagram? Follow along for real time updates of latest Macau discoveries and other travel adventures.

You May Also Like