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Ensuring gran’s kasut manek legacy lives on

30th September, 2020

GEORGE TOWN: Penang siblings, Joel Teh Min Chuen, 22, and Jocelyn Teh Pei Lin, 23, are carrying on their grandmother’s legacy of making kasut manek, which is synonymous with the Baba Nyonya people.

When Bernama visited Patricia Choo Collection (a shop named in her memory) on Rangoon Road, they were sitting together hand-sewing tiny beads for an intricate floral design in the first step of the kasut manek making process.

Min Chuen said it takes at least three weeks to finish the beaded pattern before it is sent to the shoemaker, and that the process from start to finish could take over a month.

He said that this has been a passion of theirs for about four to five years now after learning the craft from their late grandmother, Patricia.

He said they initially picked it up as a hobby while waiting for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results.

“We believe anyone can make these beaded slippers, but you definitely will need good eyesight, patience and practise,” he said.

The Teh family started selling kasut manek as a secondary business in 2014, and depending on the complexity of the design and beads, a pair could sell for between RM280 and over RM2,000.

Their mum, Angeli Choo, 52, said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, they are still receiving orders for the beaded slippers but mostly from within Malaysia.

“Before COVID-19, we had customers from places like Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, visiting our shop and buying our slippers,” said Choo.

Although Choo has been forced to retire from doing bead embroidery because of deteriorating vision, she has pioneered more modern beaded shoes.

She said she is proud of her kasut manek work over 10 years, and hopes her children will continue the tradition and pass it down to new generations.

“Learning how to make kasut manek has taught my children to be calm and patient. They can instil good personality traits in their children by passing down this heritage from a unique culture,” she said. – Bernama

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