This beaded coin purse with metal opening shows the Peranakan love for ornamentation. The beads used are mostly very tiny pieces, some as small as 0.05mm in diameter. The decorative motifs on this piece include a swan on water and flowers. The background is constructed from tiny orange glass ‘seed beads’ or ‘Rocaille beads’. Swans mate for life and therefore they are symbols of love and faithfulness in marriage. The auspicious symbols on this piece highlight its ceremonial use during the traditional Peranakan wedding. A purse like this would have been part of the wedding trousseau and was usually made in advance by the bride herself. Due to its small size, the purse served little other function. However, an empty coin pouch was considered a bad omen. As such, token sums of money, usually in pairs of coins would be placed inside to prevent any misfortune from happening.

Early 20th century
Straits Settlements
Object size: H8 x W7 x D0.5 cm
Accession No.
Glass beads, cotton thread, metal clasp
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Garments and Accessories