On Furlough to Holland

4  Clothing, Naming & Holland

Making clothes, names of the former colonies & going on leave to Holland in 1934.

Loes and others dancing with a handkerchief
Loes and others dancing with a handkerchief
Clothes were usually made by the mistress, using the popular ‘Singer’ or ‘Pfaff’ hand operated, and later on, treadle sewing machines, which, despite being antique and ancient, are still being used nowadays. Original parts have not been available for decades, however a number of small businesses have specialised in manufacturing parts for these indestructible machines themselves. In Indonesia, (almost) nothing is impossible. For a bargain price one could have a decent suit or a dress made, finished the same day, by one of the numerous local tailors. One could, but didn’t have to, bring of a picture to show what the finished item should look like and often the tailor would have various rolls of material in stock to choose from. If you were willing to spend a bit more and you wanted to show off, you could have your suit made by ‘Savelkoul’, a tailor shop widely renowned all over the Indies. On Java, a number of tailors, taking advantage of the good reputation of ‘Savelkoul’, had the gall to put on their signboards that they had previously worked for ‘Savelkoul’ as a cutter.

Fabric by the Yard

Klontong-chineesKlontong Chinese. Bron: hoedjien74
Most commonly, the fabrics used to make clothing would be purchased at a low price from a ‘klontong’ Chinese, a street vendor who made his presence known from afar a by sounding a kind of rattle. His aide would be carrying a ‘pikolan’, a bamboo cane with, at both ends, very heavy baskets filled with fabrics, which for some reason were always sold per yard instead of per metre. If the fabric vendor didn’t have a yardstick at hand, it sufficed for him to measure the fabric by holding it in between thumb and forefinger while stretching out his arm and the distance to the middle of his chest was the equivalent of a yard. More often still, in order to have a wider range of choice, the fabrics were bought at a Bombay fabric shop, the owner of which came from India or Pakistan.

Names of the Former Colonies

Before WWII, the names India and Pakistan didn’t exist , because at that time most countries were still English, American, French or Dutch colonies. The countries presently known as India and Pakistan were referred to as British India, while Singapore and Malaysia were the Straits Settlements. Plus Hong Kong. Those were all English colonies and Macao was a Portuguese colony. Ceylon - now Sri Lanka - also used to be an English colony and the Philippines were an American colony. The French colony was called French Indo-China and comprised the territories of what would later, after their independence, be the countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Then there was the Japanese island of Formosa, which after World War II became Chinese territory and was renamed Taiwan. At least, as far as I can remember. China itself was a communist country ruled by Mao Tse-tung and was fought against by the non-communist army under the command of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who was part of the Kuomintang group. After his defeat, Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan with his army and supporters and founded an independent state, away from the communist Chinese mainland.

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