Sunday, June 16, 2013

Peranakan Tiles of Bukit Brown

I commonly refer to them as Peranakan tiles as it reminds me of the old houses that were once occupied by the Peranakans or the Baba's and Nyonya's of Singapore, Malacca and Penang. However they are largely known in the western world as decorative, encaustic tiles, with their design identified by the different style of arts  (e.g. Art Nouveau tiles, Art Deco tiles, Majolica Tiles), companies (e.g. Minton, Wedgwood), techniques (e.g. transfer printed, handprinted, tubelined, moulded ) and countries of manufacturing (e.g. England, Belgium, Japan ). So whether you call it Peranakan tiles or Art Nouveau tiles, etc , i don't intend to get too technical about it.

Outside a house along Emerald Hill 
They are commonly seen in the houses of the Peranakan's largely due to the mixed influence of this group of people (the liking for mixed of eastern and western objects, artifacts, culture and language ) and also the fact that they could afford this expensive imported tiles as they are largely the more established group, thus wealthy compared to the new migrants or "sinkehs" that just arrived from China.

Below are some examples of tomb in Bukit Brown that are decorated with Peranakan tiles. I have still a lot to learn in trying to distinguish one versus the other, but then again, that's the magic of Bukit Brown, it has so much to offer for those who observed and listen. A learning ground for the curious explorer.

Thank you for joining me in my journey of exploration and sharing of this potential UNESCO World Heritage site. Do also look out for my future articles when i get the help of experts to help identify some of the tiles you see below.

Further reading

Welcome to Tile Heaven. [website]. Tile Heaven
Fowler, S., & Harvey, W. (2002). Art Nouveau Tiles C. 1890-1914. Schiffer Pub.

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