Fire Breathing Dragon

November 30, 2016 at 12:30 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers first heard of this many moons ago when she was still a college student. Still remember visiting one with fellow classmates and our art teacher at one of the ulu (translates as “out-of-place”) parts of Singapore. There, we saw the “Dragon”. But when we visited it, it was still “sleeping”….

Itchyfingers is talking about the Dragon Kiln – a kiln built with bricks and earth, and originated from China. It is called the Dragon Kiln as it is very long and has a “head” and a “tail”.

Like the sleeping Dragon, Itchyfingers‘ memory on the Dragon Kiln soon went to sleep and has only been awaken recently when, out of the moon, on one fine day, I pestered Tisu Boy to bring me to visit the only of the two surviving Dragon Kilns in Singapore. I have passed by the road with a big pottery pointing to the direction of the Kiln quite a number of times for the past few years, but just never find the time to go and check it out…

So this day, Itchyfingers finally found our way to Thow Kwan Pottery Jungle in the western part of Singapore. A pity it is really a bit out-of-the-way, as you still have to walk a distance if you take a bus there. For direction, see here.

Didn’t expect to see it the moment we stepped in….

dragon
The “head” or fire box of the dragon…This Dragon was built in 1940 and bought over by the Tan Family in 1965.

head
During the 1900s, Dragon Kilns were used for mass production of functional household and industrial wares like cups, jars and pots. The front portion (the head or fire box) is situated at the lower ground level and is the first point where firewood is fed in into the kiln at the start of the firing process.

size
I thought the one we visited at Ang Mo Kio was much longer and bigger…Didn’t have a camera then…what a waste!

stoke
The entire kiln is built on a gentle slope with a gradient of between 15 to 22 degrees. This is the “body”, a long and symmetrical structure made of joining semi-circular chambers. This elevated and semi-circular structure ensures a continuous cycle of heat within each section as the heat travels up the kiln. 

model
A miniature model of the Dragon Kiln. These openings, called the stoke holes or “eyes”, are located at designated spots in each chamber along the kiln body for fueling purposes. Wood fuel is fed through these stoke holes sequentially in stages to achieve an even distribution of heat throughout the kiln. Temperature inside the kiln is gauged by observing the colour of the flames through the stoke holes.

how-it-works
A poster on the wall explains how it works…

entrance2
One of the entrances into the kiln body…

tail
The heat and smoke from the firing escapes through a chimney, or “tail” of the Dragon, located at the highest point of the inclined ground, which is partially seen here…

entrance
Careful of your head! The entrance is quite low…

tunnel
The interior of the “body”…

Today, the Dragon Kiln provides a platform for artists and potters in fueling an understanding and appreciation of the disappearing art of wood-firing. To create awareness of the traditions, heritage and cultural aspect of the Dragon Kiln and promote interest in the art of pottery, Thow Kwang holds regular tours, talks and workshops in their premises.

pig
There is a large shop area where you can find lots of traditional and contemporary pottery, ceramic wares and cute bronze sculptures like this one!

house
A peek at the old house at the back…Really feel like going back in time to the 60s!

For Itchyfingers, we were so lucky to visit at the right time to find out about the next firing of the Dragon Kiln!!!!

fire
The Dragon shall be awaken and breathing fire again come this December 16-17! There will be free guided tour on 17 Dec at 2pm and 7pm. Walk-ins are welcome according to the leaflet! Itchyfingers definitely would love to witness this! 

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The Little Red Brick – SG50 Lego Exhibition

August 22, 2015 at 12:43 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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This year is Singapore’s 50th year of national building. As part of the Jubilee Celebration, there are many events organised around the island. Itchyfingers just went to this ‘Past Forward’ Exhibition, held at Singapore National Library. There are three parts to this exhibition: ‘The Little Red Brick’, ‘3D Printing Singapura Stories’ and ‘The Singapore March’. But I must say that most people were attracted first to the many Lego models, cos I was there also just to check out the Legos…hahah

Since it is the SG50 celebration (Singapore 50), a lot of events revolve around the number “50”. There were apparently 50 showcases of people’s memories of Singapore, presented in the form of Lego models here. Din count, so can’t confirm…hahah…

9-Aug
Old school radio, a peranakan tingkat (or the tiffin box),  the gem biscuit in tin and the old school calendar, all made with Lego bricks!

biscuit
So cute!

octopus
Game & Watch, a cool toy of yesteryear! 😀

playground
One of my favorites – the old school mosaic playgrounds! Remember the Dragon, Pelican, Elephant and Watermelon? They left out the Seal… Sadly the Pelican is no more…. 😦 Why couldn’t they preserve the beautiful Pelican at least as a sculpture?

watermelon
The Watermelon playgrounds. In recent year, there are some local designers who made these old playgrounds into collar pins or bags for sale…wonder if there is any copyright issue?

library2
The iconic red-bricked National Library that, sadly, had given way to a stupid tunnel and finally another building for SMU…

library
Inside the old library…wow the library cards are huge! 😀

wayang
Another one of my favourite Lego models…the makeshift chinese opera stage, complete with opera actors and audiences

stage
So cute, look at the zigzag, comical-looking, snake-like dragons on both sides…they even put in the name of the acts on the black board…hahah

backstage
Backstage was as interesting as the front, with actors busy putting on their makeups and robes. At the left were the musicians. Kids were shown here skipping ropes. Street operas used to be common in the older days as main entertainment. But with the introduction of more televisions, cinemas and later, computer games, it is now a dying trade….

cinema
Open air movie screening! Looked so hip and cool! Hahaha….A lot of reflection on the casing, so very tough to take closeups…

samsui
The Samsui Women. These iron ladies from Sanshui of Guangdong (Canton) Province in China, came to Singapore between the 1920s and the 1940s and worked in construction sites as hard laborers, carrying heavy loads. Their hard work contributed to Singapore’s development, both as a colony and as a nation. Our true pioneers! 

samsui2
These women were referred to as 红头巾, which translates as “red bandana”, a reference to the trademark red cloth hats that they wore. Today, most of these Samsui Women have either passed on or went back to their hometown in China. Only a handful retired here in Singapore

red-house
Remember the Little Red House at Katong? Only went to this bakery twice before it was closed for development in 2003. But it stood there for many years with nothing being done to it! Only recently did the paper report some updates on the development

shophouse
Another favourite piece. Shophouses at Koon Seng Road near Joo Chiat

shop
So nice! Even the otherwise ugly wheeler bins looked cool here

tiong-bahru
Tiong Bahru pre-war flats!

ice-cream
Came with its own grumpy ice-cream man! Hahah. These uncles are still a common sight now, and long queues can sometimes be seen at those along Orchard Road on a hot day!

Remembering-LKY
Talking about queue…more than 1.2 million people braved rain and shine, day and night in March this year, to pay our last respect to our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House. This queue looked way too short…Itchyfingers braved through the whole Friday night for nine hours to pay our few seconds of respect…were you there too? Er, the flag didn’t look so good though….

 

bus-stop
The old bus stop! I love the pink and red Bougainvillea flowers!!! The flags here were much nicer! I didn’t take the old double-decker bus beside it… 😦

train
Who could have forgotten the KTM train that once passed through the heart of our island just few years back? This train against the Bukit Timah station must had brought back lots of memories for many people….The old railway track is now the Green Corridor. Itchyfingers just did our first Green Corridor Run early this year!

merlion
This Merlion looked very comical… 😀

landmark
But this one looked worse…I thought it was an elephant at first glance! The sprouting water looked more like an elephant’s trunk…hahah…and since when did we have a white standing Buddha figure in town? Hahaha….

singa
They should really stop at one…The bigger Singa looked fine…but the smaller one….hahahahah…..

army
We have to thank these Men in Green for protecting our homes. Here, a typical scene of parents sending off their teenage boys to be enlisted into the army

There was a small section on 3D printing, which was quite neglected..haha

march
First National Day Parade in 1966

great-world
Great World – a popular place for entertainment in the past

Overall, it was quite an interesting exhibition that certainly brought back quite a lot of memories. There were still many others that were not featured here, so do pop by the National Library foyer from now till 28 August to see them! 🙂

Also see related post:
> Building a LovingSG

Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda

April 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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The capital of Tang China (618-907), Chang’an (present day Xi’an), was a hub for economic and cultural exchange. One of the most revered Buddhist sites in China was the Famen Temple. But for more than 1000 years, a finger relic of the Buddha and many gold, silver, ceramic pieces from the Tang dynasty lied forgotten within an underground crypt in the temple, only to be rediscovered in 1987 when the temple pagoda was being repaired.

camel
China at that time not only became prosperous and powerful, but also culturally diverse. This was mainly due to trade with foreign lands through the Silk Route to Central Asia. Camels were highly valuable in these arid lands, transporting goods and food

camel2
Ceramic camels excavated from Tang tombs are usually the Two-humped Bactrians, known to be resistant to cold weather. They are often accompanied by figures of foreigners

horse
Nice horse figurine…

Tang tombs were supplied with objects thought to be of use to the deceased, with ceramic figures being a key feature

guardian
A lion tomb guardian. Pairs of guardian beasts were typically placed outside the tomb chamber or in niches along the entrance passageway

guardian2
Figures dating to the earlier Tang period are generally simpler in form, and one of the pair often has a clearly distinguishable human face…Wow…this looks a bit scary and forbidding….more so than the lion….It actually reminded me of the Egyptian Sphinx…

zodiac
An interesting set of figurines depicting the 12 zodiac animals….but some of them a bit tough to decipher…wahahah….

I like these four miniature Buddhist figures made with gilded bronze…

figure
These collections of small statues were very likely buried to save them from being melted down during the intermittent periods of Buddhist persecutions during the Northern Dynasties and Tang periods….

figure2
I find this cute…hahahah…

figure3
The third one

figure4
Wow, he has three more little figures above him..nice…hahaha

But this has to be my favourite piece….It was what attracted me to the exhibition…. :p

turtle
A beautiful turtle-shaped container! This is featured on the promotional leaflet…The shell is the lid and it is probably used to store tea powder

emboss
Oh while you are at the gallery hall, do pick up this activity sheet and try embossing the various designs on it…I love the turtle one! So much details! 🙂 Oh, remember to press hard enough to get the full picture…hahaha

turtle2
The most beautiful feature of this pitcher is the tortoise-shaped rivet on the handle, which rotates…

coffin
A coffin-shaped reliquary carved from a single block of jade. It is thought to have held the genuine finger bone relic of the Buddha. Er, that’s up to you to believe…but I thought only a grasshopper or cricket can fit into the little casket …so small….wahahahah…. 😀 There is another made from bronze on exhibit

jug-w-faces
I find this jug with faces unique. The silk routes brought traders, pilgrims and envoys from near and far. The Chang’an capital during the Tang dynasty became a cosmopolitan city. “This cast bronze jug is one of the most enigmatic objects excavated in China in recent years. It relates to pottery of Iran and of Khotan, a city in southwestern China. Both areas were on the Silk Route, connecting Tang China to Central Asian and beyond.”

hairpin
The fanciful and complex hairdos of Tang women often involved the use of wigs, which made hairpins a vital accessory. Hairpins also served as status symbols. So the higher one social’s rank, the more hairpins one was entitled to wear….Er, of course lah, poor people how to buy so many gold hairpins like this? Wahahahahah….

beauty2
Ahhh…the Tang beauty….er…no hairpin leh!?! Wahahah….But there is this tiny hole on her bun which might be where the hairpin was supposed to be….

beauty
Tang women are so lucky….they are considered beauties when they are so chubby with slits for eyes and look of a certain Asia leader…wahahah….This looks like the bee-hive hairstyle from the 60s…hahhaah….

bun
Some women have double bun….

beauty3
She looks like she has a snake head on her….hahah….

fan
You can pick up a paper fan and doll up your own Tang beauty! Wahahah….

The Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda – Treasures from Famen Temple and the Tang Court is ongoing at the Asian Cilivisation Museum until the 4 May. Admission is $8.

Also see related post:
Tales from the Tomb – Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor and His Legacy

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