Straits Chinese hairpin

Peranakan Chinese hairpins or ‘chuchok sanggul’ were used by Peranakan Chinese women (‘nyonyas’) to hold their ‘sanggul’ or tightly coiled hair bun, a popular hairstyle of the day, in place. ‘Nyonyas’ in Malacca and Singapore traditionally used a set of three pins; two ‘korak kuping’ (literally, ‘ear picks’ also known as ‘coffin nails’) which are pins with rounded knobs at one end, fashioned after a metal rod used by the Chinese to clean their ears, and a third hairpin called the ‘bunga’ (flower) used for decorative purposes. As younger ‘nyonyas’ started to follow the latest Western fashion trends, the hairdo and the use of such hairpins eventually went out of style in the 1930s. This particular hairpin features a floral motif.

Late 19th – early 20th century
Object size: L 12.1 x W 2
Accession No.
Collection of
National Museum of Singapore
Folklife Collection