Friday, April 27, 2007

Tiled beauty (Photo-essay)

Many people, as is their wont, don't bother to look at what is under their feet. This can seem like a real pity; and perhaps particularly so in Penang. One reason for my thinking this is that, given the dilapidated condition of some of the drain covers -- or, in some cases, their outright absence! -- in George Town, to not look where walk when you're walking about Penang's capital city can bring about a pretty unpleasant fall into a yucky drain!

For another, to not at least look down on occasion when you walk on the side of a Penang road, lane and street -- or into one of the traditional shops or houses in town -- is to risk missing out on beholding the beauty that's right below your feet. More specifically, as this photo-essay seeks to show this blog's readers, a whole bunch of colorful plus patterned floor tiles can be found adorning many a verandahed and pedestrian five-foot way and traditional shophouse or more regular house floor over here.

From what I've been given to understand, the local proclivity towards having these decorated tiles actually began with a practical need to protect walls from water splashing off roads and nearby monsoon drains. (The latter of which, for those who've never seen them, are quite a bit deeper than most other drains found in parts of the world which aren't regularly lashed by monsoon rains.)

As time went by though, the practical became mixed with artistic tendencies and elements. And when the architectural style known as Straits Eclectic reached its zenith, public and private floor spaces as well as the walls of houses got covered with sets of colorful tiles, some of which were imported from as far away as Britain (i.e., the colonizers' native land) to this Southeast Asian space that's been made all the richer for their inclusion into the local built landscape.

Examples of both wall and floor tile decorations
over here in Penang

Part of a colorfully tiled five-foot way
in a residential area in inner city George Town

A close-up view of tiled beauty

A photo of steps as well as more good floor tile examples
that I had thought about choosing
to feature in last week's
Photo Hunt entry ;)

Some five-foot ways possess interesting borders
along with the more "usual" groups of patterned tiles

The decorated (including with floor tiles)
interior of
East Xiamen Delicacies,
a restaurant specializing in Teochew food
located in Love Lane (yes, really!), Penang

A view of a five-foot way along a stretch of road
that is home to a row of traditional shophouses
that have latterly been converted into restaurants and bars

Another close-up view of tiled beauty
(this time with the added "bonus" of three of my toes
and part of a sandal in it! ;D)


Gattina said...

Your pictures are very special and beautiful, but where is your Photo Hunter "rare" picture ?

YTSL said...

Hi Gattina --

Thanks for checking some of my non Photo Hunter pictures. As for my Photo Hunter "rare" entry: It's up now! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, serious question, the second pic.which street is it? it looks like the row of houses where i grew up in

YTSL said...

Hi bengbeng --

Eeek! Am not sure whether I can answer correctly as I went about taking a whole bunch of photos of the tiles, five-foot ways, etc. one morning. Hmmm...maybe Jalan Irving or Jalan Seang Teik? (OTOH, can tell you for certain that the other five-foot way is in Kerian Road!)

Anonymous said...

I stayed at Sri Bahari Road befre. It looks like that. the tiles even look similar. I can't remember clearly as i was only a toddler. But the pics rings a bell. mayb they all look the same :). Thx for answering the question.
Would you like to link with
it is my other blog :)

YTSL said...

Hi bengbeng --

Nah, they don't all look the same. Similiar though maybe... ;S

Also, thanks for asking but sorry, I'm going to pass re linking to (No offence but it's not my kind of thang.)

carmilevy said...

The artistry in this architecture is stunning. Moreover, you have such a way of capturing it in words and images.

BTW, I followed your link home from Roxanne's (SRP/Melange) site, and I look forward to reading more. I hope you'll pop by my site and say hi as well.

All the best,


YTSL said...

Hi Carmi --

Thanks for the compliments and I feel especially complimented after going and checking out your blog. (Talk about it being that of a person who has a way with words and images...) In fact, I've bookmarked it and will make a point to revisit it every once in a while (or even maybe more than that!). :)

Anonymous said...

Those tiles--and photos of them--are just gorgeous. I love the variety of patterns and the rich colors.

I wonder if your choice of blog theme (with the repeating geometric pattern for the background) was influenced by this aspect of Penang scenery?

YTSL said...

Alejna --

Glad you like the photos of the tiles. Suffice to say though that I only managed to give you a hint as to the variety of the patterns and the richness of their colors.

Also, interesting idea re whether the tiles influenced my choice of blog theme. Alas, the answer is no and, rather, it just appealed to me for on account of its overall olde-worldy, old fogey feel! ;b