Majie’s black ribbon

This black ribbon belonged to a majie, a Cantonese female domestic helper. In adherence to tradition, majies underwent a sor hei (combing up) ceremony where they took an oath before a statuette of Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) to remain unmarried and celibate. Sor hei, in literal terms, means to “comb up” the hair into a bun or plait. While some majies wore their hair in a plait, some also clipped their hair in a bun, using a hairclip as shown. The choice of an unassuming colour like black for the ribbon blends in with black hair, which also ties in with the majie’s fidelity to their vow of modesty and humility.

Date/Period
Mid-20th century
Region
Singapore
Dimension
Gross measurement: 3.0 x 118.0 cm
Accession No.
2017-00900
Material
Silk
Collection of
National Museum of Singapore
Credit Line
Gift of Dr Mark Lu
Category
Garments and Accessories