Monday July 30, 2012
Antiques need bigger home
AN antique-collecting couple is appealing to the government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private sector to step up and help preserve the Indian heritage and culture.
Hotel tourism lecturer J. Prakash, 33, and his staff nurse wife M. Punita, 32, hope to secure a venue to house their collection for public viewing.
Their flat in Jalan Samak, Penang, is running out of space for their growing collection of some 1,500 items.
“This is our personal collection and we are not going to sell the antiques. What we would like is a space to exhibit them so that the public, especially the younger generation, can learn about Indian heritage, culture and tradition.
“Hopefully, either the state, Federal Government, NGOs or antique enthusiasts can provide us a space in Little India to permanently display our collection in line with the inner city’s UNESCO World Heritage listing,” Prakash told a press conference at his home.
He said they were not interested in displaying their collection at commercial venues as the main purpose was to make Indian antiques accessible to everyone.
“We’ve spent a lot on money and travelled all over the country as well as to Singapore and India to source for some of these items but our aim is not to make a profit.
“We want to educate the young and show them the value of Indian culture. If we had a proper space, we can turn it into a museum dedicated to Indian antiques complete with informative signages and historical documentation,” he added.
“Perhaps we can even have a large scale exhibition involving collectors from all over the country,” he said.
They often allow students into their home to view the collection but because of space constraint, they had to limit entry to 10 visitors at a time.
“In Penang, we have the Peranakan Museum featuring Nyonya items and the Blue Mansion showcasing Chinese culture but there is none for the Indian community yet,” added Prakash.
The antique-loving pair started their collection with Nyonya tiffin carriers but soon discovered a passion for Indian collectibles.
Among the rare items they own are family heirlooms, enamel items engraved with Tamil words, an old map and an Indian tiffin carrier dating back to 1870, which they bought from Ipoh.
“It’s unique because the tiffin carrier can keep food warm using charcoal,” Punita said.
She said some of the antiques in their collection prove that Indians who came to Malaysia weren’t all poor migrants and coolies.
“Items like a typewriter with Tamil lettering and exquisite enamel pieces showed that even wealthy Indians opted to leave their homeland for Malaya.
“There are less than 15 Indian antique collectors in the country and I believe that we have the most extensive collection ranging from old photographs to boilers in Penang,” she said. They are members of the Malaysian Indian Historical Association. For details, call Prakash at 012-4041424.