Friday, January 16, 2009

My Precious Inheritance - Nonya Antique Porcelain


With my best friend, Amu. Although illiterate, Amu is sharp and intelligent and loves music, art and cooking .

The Malaysian Ambassador to Singapore, giving his speech at the Opening Ceremony of Yap Chin Hoe's art exhibition

Another of Chin Hoe's lovely still life painting

The antiques from my great grandmother
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I used to live at an hdb flat in Dover, near Anglo Chinese School, Independent. I liked the market which was small and hence the vendors would know all their customers quite well. I only seemed to be taking my favourite wanton noodles at the same stall, and I would buy fruits also at the same stall. A person of habits.

One day, the fruit seller looked at me with big eyes, and asked, "You speak Chinese?"

"Of course, I do! I am a Chinese, or to be more exact, a Peranakan Chinese.

"Oh, sorry, I thought you were a Malay and that is why I always speak to you in English," said the young man, who helped his mother during his free time.

"Don't worry.....have often been mistaken to be a Malay, Thai or Filipino", I smiled. I hardly speak Hokkien dialect because some Singaporeans find my Hokkien a little difficult to understand, as Penang Hokkien is uttered in a sing-song manner.

I am glad that my parents had taught us to speak our mother tongue and also glad that we had many Malay and Indian neighbours so that multi-lingualism is not a problem for me and my siblings.

I am glad that when my parents passed away, I took with me a few antique Nonya pieces when I went overseas for my tertiary. I had left a box of the antiques with my buddy, Jame's parents, the Dunlaps. When the Dunlaps wanted to move to a smaller apartment, they found my antiques, and James graciously sent them back to me via DHL, and even refused to let me pay for the delivery charges. Eldest sister had asked me to sell the antiques, but I am keeping them as souvenirs. Perhaps I will pass them on to my beloved niece, Yann, who incidentally is the wife of Yap Chin Hoe, the popular and well-known Malaysian artist of still life of Nonya antiques.

It is amazing how well-crafted the antiques are. I guess in days of yore, people had more time so that most crafts were made with finesse and great artistry.

Gan Chau

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