August 31, 2009
Chicks from Another Era
Post card from Old Malaya showing a Chinese Coffee Shop with two-tone bamboo chicks or blinds. The post card scenery hasn't changed much over the years. It is a beautiful sight to reflect on : different races inter-mingling with each other. I love the small stalls which sell Malay original lekor or pisang goreng alongside other Chinese or Indian foodstalls on the five foot way. It is a harmonious way of life.
This post card inspires me to write my posting today.
I must say today the word chicks can conjure up different meanings to different people.
Guys would laugh when they see this word. Children would think that it is just a word for baby chickens. But this word brings me to another world and another era.
A very old( probably from the colonial days) shop in Penang advertising chicks and furniture. I took this photo while wandering in the old part of Penang one night with good friends recently. Haven't seen this kind of advertisement for a long time.
Pretty bamboo chicks or blinds to enhance a luxurious and airy balcony.
A nice way of maintaining privacy when it is desired.
Bamboo chicks or blinds have been around for centuries.
The first bamboo blinds that caught my youthful attention were those in the Sibu Recreation Club which shaded the club room from the evening setting sun in the 50's. Then there were many blinds for the Residency where the late Mr. Ignatius Angking and his family used to live. The Sibu Government Rest House also had long blinds protecting the rooms from strong sun light.
In my childhood's Sibu beautiful bungalows in Sibu had names! "Rumah Merah" for example or "Rose Cottage". "Lee Ling" and "Jasmine" the two houses for Methodist Missionaries also had bamboo blinds. My own house in Brooke Drive and later the flat we had in Lanang Road Lane 2 also used blinds to protect us from the sun and the rain. My mother was also fond of bamboo blinds. After we shifted from the shophouse she rolled the blinds up carefully and we put them up in our new home again.
Almost all government Third Class and Fourth Class quarters in Race Course Road and Upper Lanang Road Sibu would have a bamboo chick to cover their small balcony. Some people would like to use the bamboo chicks as a screen from their prying neighbour's eyes and to have what ever little privacy they could have. Some would like the coolness the chicks can provide.
Many people believe that the original idea of a blind came from the Egyptians. But as bamboo has its origin in China many attribute the origin of bamboo chicks to the Chinese who promoted the idea of blocking the sun rays. And because of their huge trade in the old Silk Road and the maritime sea routes bamboo chicks became a household name in most countries including European nations and later American southern states.
For a while the British colonial power garnered a lot of trade for themselves and one of their trading items was architectural materials for expansive and luxurious homes in the hill stations especially in India and Malaya. Even many of the British country homes in the UK boasted materials from the Far East.
Today the bamboo chicks or blinds have become part and parcel of good sensible green living.
Made very affordable the blinds can be rolled up and down conveniently and is truly a great invention. They may gain even more popularity in the near future.