Discovering tiles – Bukit Brown 

Today in Singapore I returned for another walk through Bukit Brown cemetery. The person leading the walk is a tile collector so we got a bit more insight into all the colourful tiles used on the tombstones.

Surviving floor tiles are rare as they are made of un fired cement and not only can they get worn off they are also destroyed by enthusiastic cleaning with acid. 

The “wall” tiles are the ones which are more commonly associated with Peranakan tiles. The name is a bit confusing because they were neither made nor designed by the Peranakans, just used in the decoration of their houses. They were originally made in Britain and were considered a luxury item when they were first brought over. The designs were copied by the Japanese and those are commonly found here too. There are a few Belgian and German tiles found in the cemetary.

The British designs tended to have softer colours and more intricate designs while the Japanese ones were more vibrant.  The time period could be guessed from the art deco or art nouveu style of the designs… though sometimes the same grave had both styles. This was due to those tiles produced in Europe being skipped over only several years later.  Due to the use of heavy metals including lead in the paints the production was discontinued hence the original tiles are now collectors items. 

We also ran across a tomb that is seemingly from the future. Turns out it followed the old Japanese calendar since it was during the Japanese occupation (1944)

As we left the cemetery we came across a family of monkeys who seemed quite at home there.


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