The Phoenix Collar
Battle Of The Beadsmith 2013 Entry
The Peranakan Chinese people are descendants of late 15th and 16th century Chinese traders attracted by the riches of South East Asia. Although many do not settle down in this foreign land, many also marry local women and making South East Asia their home. They bring with them their culture, traditions and dress. Over time, it evolved to a hybrid of the Chinese culture with the local culture.
In particular, the Peranakan people are well known for their cuisine and their dedication to beautiful embroidery and beadwork. They incorporate many of the symbols and motives from China such as dragon, phoenix, peony and lotus.
The wedding day is one of the most important day for any young Peranakan lady. She will wear a traditional Chinese wedding gown that has been painstaking embroidered by her and other female members of the household for her big day.
The phoenix has always been a symbol of feminine power in the Peranakan society. And on her wedding day, over her wedding gown, she wears a Phoenix collar. And on this her wedding day, she is the phoenix. The collar has many movable layers representing the beautiful feathers of a phoenix.
It is this collar that has inspired me to create my version of the Phoenix collar. The collar is in 2 layers incorporating several styles of a modern take on traditional techniques.
The largest layer incorporates soutache work in luxurious golds and opal crystals. Embracing the soutache motive are sparking crystals rising like a phoenix. The elements are layered over luxurious Thai silk in peacock blue and edged with gold.
On top of this layer is a layer of bead embroidered “feathers”. Opal crystals in a feather motive is surrounded by opal beads and crystals in a cloud like muted pattern to represent the phoenix taking flight.
A crystal encrusted collar surrounding a central soutache motive forms the collar that holds all the “feathered” layers in place.