Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Nyonya floor tiles(Peranakan floor tiles)
I went to Bangkok Lane(in Penang, not Bangkok), hoping to eat the famous mee goreng (fried noodles) , but the coffee shop was closed on Monday.
I went to visit one of the art gallery along the road. The old floor tiles of the strait settlement house suddenly strike my eyes.
The said floor tiles on the floor, with colorful pattern, despite the color may be fading, it still look beautiful. It is our long lost colorful nyonya floor tiles......
The type of the floor tiles that always placed on the ground floor of the house; on the floor of verandahed walkway(Goh Kha Ki or five foot way) of the shop ; and inside the house/shophouse. It is colorful with geometrical patterns. It is made of terra-cotta or terracotta It is rare to see such floor tiles in Penang now.(note: terra-cotta is a clay based unglazed ceramic).
Another common tiles was the ceramic wall tiles, normally with either geometrical patterns or floral patterns. The nyonya ceramic tiles were normally be used on the walls, below the front window that facing the street. I saw one old house near Pulau Tikus market, the wall below the front window still with the ceramic wall tiles intact. It is the ceramic wall tiles with floral patterns. It is reported that we still can find some Strait Eclectic style terrace houses in Muntri Street, with their beautiful floor tiling and wall tiles preserved. Many of these houses had converted into shops.
Strait Eclectic style - Eclecticism is a kind of mixed style in arts, the borrowing of variety of styles from the different sources and combining them. The modern artists will called the style fusion. Strait Eclectic style is the nyonya or strait settlement or peranakan style, whcih is the fusion of Malay, Chinese, Western culture.
Peranalan and Baba- Nyonya(峇峇娘惹) is descendants of early Chinese who are having culture with fusion of Malay and Chinese, but it later also influenced by the West; which also included Strait Chinese(土生華人) who are Chinese lived during the Strait Settlement period (Strait settlement is British territories from 1826-1946 in South East Asia,which included Singapore, Penang & Malacca, Province Weslesley, Dindings, Christmas Island & Coco Island).