Antique tile shopping - a great way to experience history - well, that was my excuse during my mother's recent visit to Singapore. We both love antiques, and tiles are no exception. Although she favours art deco and I like art nouveau - we both agree it's the story behind the object that makes shopping so much more meaningful...
And no better story-teller on tiles is Peranakan tile expert Victor Lim! I'd been planning to visit Victor at his shop Aster by Kyra since I first met him at an American Women's Association event last year, where we got to experience painting mini-tiles at Rasha Eleyan's studio.
According to very personable Victor, this tile is highly symbolic and typically Chinese in its images. Buddha's hand (fingered citron): a symbol of happiness, longevity and good fortune. Peaches: a symbol of long life. Pomegranate: a symbol for fertility - traditionally meaning many sons!
The tile I bought was made by Danto Kaisha, one of only two Japanese tile manufacturers in operation today. Another place to visit when I get around to organising an art tour of Japan...any takers?:) You can see here what Danto is making these days - stylish tiles of a modern type!
Thanks also to Anne Pinto Rodrigues' article Peranakan Tiles: The Japanese Connection in Friends of the Museums Singapore 'Passage' magazine, I recently learned that many 'Peranakan' tiles were actually tailored to local Peranakan tastes and manufactured in Japan. Apparently local craftsmen were also taken to Japan to create tiles rich in Chinese symbolism and motifs. Patricia Bjaaland Welch has also been a great help in understanding more about motifs used in these such tiles. I'm looking forward to her upcoming article in Arts of Asia on the symbolism of musical instruments in the decorative arts.
I'm looking forward to seeing my mum again on her return journey through Singapore in June. Perhaps we need to learn just a bit more about antique tiles and make another visit to Victor's shop...:)