When travelling exploring cities and suburbs by foot has many advantages. One of them is that you inadvertently come across hidden treasures which aren’t mentioned in travel guidebooks or itinerary planners. One of these hidden gems, which we found in Singapore, is the Peranakan Tiles Gallery. It is situated next to the Thian Hock Keng, one of Singapore’s oldest Hokkien temples, in Chinatown – just a short walk from Telok Ayer MRT (Downtown Line) and Tanjong Pagar MRT (East West Line) and has no entry fee.
Opened in 2016 by owner Victor Lim, the gallery aims to showcase a unique collection of antique and replica Peranakan tiles. (The term Peranakan is an Indonesian / Malay word which means ‘Local born’ and refers to Straits-born Chinese who are the descendants of mixed marriages between Chinese male immigrants and Malay women.)
The Tile gallery houses an explosion of colour contained in a large quantity of antique Peranakan tiles which were painstakingly salvaged from old shop houses demolished in 1970s and 1980s to make way for modern cities in Singapore and Malaysia.
The end results are magnificent. Each uniquely artistic tile tells a story and the detail and intricacy of design is superb. One feels surrounded by colour, history and passion. Because the passion required to restore these items is mark-worthy. The shop assistants can provide the history of each tile and do so willingly, almost more interested in sharing the story than in making a sale.
The entire area in which this gallery is located is captivating and deserves to be thoroughly explored, so let your feet do the walking and uncover the bountiful treasures.
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