Category Archives: Mind Philosophy

Shining the spotlight on the creative realm of the sublimely artistic and bringing the latest and breaking news from the art world


Peranakan Chinese and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Malay-Indonesian archipelago of Nusantara during the Colonial era.

Members of this community in Malaysia identify themselves as ‘Nyonya-Baba’ or ‘Baba-Nyonya’. Nyonya is the term for the females and Baba for males. It applies especially to the ethnic Chinese populations of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java and other locations, who adopted partially or in full Malay-Indonesian customs to become partially assimilated into the local communities.

While the term Peranakan is most commonly used among the ethnic Chinese for those of Chinese descent also known as Straits Chinese (土生華人; named after the Straits Settlements), it may also be applied to the Baba-Yaya community in Phuket and other provinces of southern Thailand.

Is there a difference between the Chinese and the Baba Nyonya of the Straits Settlement during the good old days? Definitely it is undeniable that the lifestyles have some distinctive variations. The obvious were the food, customs, kinship, attire and language. The Nyonya believed that to keep a man’s heart at home was to have excellent culinary skills – to cook good, delicious food making sure that the husband is full and happy. Hence this is one of the reasons why Nyonya food until today is still so popular. Due to the fact that the Baba Nyonya have resided along the Straits Settlement for a long time, the way they dressed and conversed were highly influenced by the Malay culture. However, the common belief is that somewhere along the ancestry line is that the great grandmothers or the great, great grandmothers were of Malay origin but was found to be unsubstantiated as research by interviewing offsprings of Baba Nyonya families did not show any Malay blood line. Even by arguing the fact that some of the Chinese men who stayed on with Princess Hang Li Po during the late 15th century and marrying local women, thus creating the Baba Nyonya’s connection is over stretching history especially when only after four centuries were the Baba Nyonya and its historical lifestyles documented. The common misinterpretation until today that the Chinese in Malaysia are called ‘Malay People’ or ‘马来人‘ by Chinese living in China and Hong Kong may be the answer that the Chinese men who migrated from China then married a ‘Malay Girl’ from Malaya which in fact is referring to a local Chinese girl.

Baba Nyonya Wedding Photo, 1920 
images courtesy of

Further to comparing the similarities and differences between the Chinese and Baba Nyonya, it is rather peculiar that scholars have yet to find any Baba Nyonya association that was formed during the late 19th century. Unlike the Chinese, where many associations were established for those who came from the same regions in China, spoke the same dialects, have the same surnames, or worked in the same trades, etc. it is also found that some prominent Babas were members and contributed to these Chinese associations. The reason why the Baba Nyonya did not have their own association that time inclined some to opine that they actually considered themselves part of the Chinese community but living differently from the traditional Chinese culture.


Australia’s Only Underwater Museum

Located on the Great Barrier Reef of Townsville North Queensland, the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) is a series of art installations created by world famous underwater sculptor and environmentalist – Jason deCaires Taylor. Taylor is one of the first contemporary artists in the world to exhibit his works in the underwater realm.

The artworks include Ocean Siren, a 15-foot-tall color-changing sculpture off the coast of Townsville © Jason deCaires Taylor
A mask rests serenely in the Mediterranean  © Jason deCaires Taylor
© Richard Woodgett

As Taylor’s only underwater art museum in the Southern Hemisphere, MOUA was created to educate and inspire the world about reef conservation, restoration and an aim to achieve positive environmental outcomes. Additionally, the museum aspires to share stories of the reef and the culture of its First Nations people. 

Visitors are able to snorkel or dive into this marvellous underwater world to enjoy these incredible artworks which over time will transform into their own eco-systems, as they have been built to allow for coral planting to support reef restoration. Tours are available to those wanting to journey to this remarkable art wonder on the ocean floor to visit, learn and support a cause to make a positive impact to the environment, the economy and the community.

Nest, located in Gili Meno, Indonesia, is heavily visited by snorkelers © Jason deCaires Taylor
Jason deCaires Taylor poses 26 feet below the surface with sculptures in his Silent Evolution installation at Mexico’s Museo Subacuático 
de Arte @ Courtesy Jason deCaires Taylor

Remembering the People’s Princess – The Unveiling of Princess Diana’s Statue

Diana, Princess of Wales; former consort of Prince Charles; devoted mother to Prince William and Prince Harry; patroness of many charities and organisations, campaigner, activist and international icon of grace, elegance, and glamour.  Her untimely demise due to a car crash in 1997 greatly saddened the world. Princess Diana’s legacy has deeply impacted the royal family and British society, and she continues to be remembered dearly till this day.

© KensingtonRoyal

On 1st July 2021, Prince William and Prince Harry paid homage to their late mother, Princess Diana – a special day which would have been the Princess’ 60th birthday. The brothers unveiled Princess Diana’s statue at the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace, also known to be her favourite spot. The stunning garden where the ceremony took place was designed by Pip Morrison. 

Created by Ian Rank-Broadley, the statue of the Princess is depicted in one of her trademark ensembles of a tuxedo-pleated button-up shirt, simple A-line skirt and a bold, wide belt. Renowned for her many eye-catching and show-stopping outfits, this statue perfectly encapsulates the late Princess’ style. 

The new memorial, slightly larger at 1.25 times life size, is commissioned by the brothers to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their mother’s passing. With outstretched arms, the Princess is seen standing alongside three children.  According to The Independent, Kensington Place released a statement expressing that the statue “reflects the warmth, elegance, and energy of Diana.” The three children are meant to represent the “universality and generational impact” of her humanitarian work. 

A joint statement from Princes William and Harry stated: “It has been 20 years since our mother’s death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world with a permanent statue. Our mother touched so many lives.  We hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy.”

Chng Embraces the London Art Biennale 2021

Award-winning Asian artist Chng Huck Theng was selected to participate in the prestigious London Art Biennale 2021 – after his bronze sculpture titled ‘Embracing Oneself Again’ made it through the final selection.
Described as ‘The Capital for Contemporary Art’, the London Art Biennale was curated by the Gagliardi Gallery in conjunction with the International Confederation of Art Critics and the Chianciano Art Museum. The selection process is stringent, and only the finest artworks make the final show. Thousands of diverse and impressive applications were received from artists worldwide for this 5th edition. A total of 454 artworks were selected for the exhibition, which was held at the Chelsea Old Town Hall on King’s Road in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in Inner London.
Chng, having previously represented Malaysia in the Venice Art Biennale and World Expo, was delighted to add another highlight to his long list of accomplishments in an art career that has spanned nearly three decades. The 49-year old shared – “It is a great feeling. To be recognised by such a prestigious art event, held in one of the world’s most art-inclined cities, is truly an honour. It definitely motivates me to continue my art journey.”
“But more importantly, this is also affirmation that Malaysian artists have the talent to shine on the world stage. Living in a culturally diverse society with rich heritage and history opens our minds to many different things, which add value, meaning and quality to the works we produce.”
Chng’s ‘Embracing Oneself Again’ sculpture comes from his ‘The Mask – Second Chance’ series of works. The work was inspired by a dried and burnt piece of wood he saw while exploring a local forest some time ago. He salvaged a few pieces, and recasted this particular stump in bronze. To add layer and nuance, he also added a mask and feet casted from an actual chicken foot.
“It’s hardly possible to give life a second chance simply because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Just like any living being, plants and trees also have many chapters of existence before they die either naturally or suddenly. We may not know what happened, but we can always try to use our imagination and creativity to give it new life.”
“So while we cannot bring something back as it was, we can instead bring it back as something else. They need not be gone forever and can have a second chance if we’re creative enough. That is my way of trying to inspire the living to find purpose in their lives and strive for even greater heights. As an artist, it’s what I find both challenging and fulfilling,” Chng shared.
And this is what allows his works to stand out. To date, Chng’s artworks have gone into public and private collections in countries such as China, Australia, the UK, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Belgium, the UAE and the USA, besides his native Malaysia.
Fan Di’an, President of China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, once said – “Through Chng’s sculptures, we can not only see his passion, but also an emotional daily record of his life experiences. Young and talented, the artist manages to bring out the exuberance, energy and vitality of life in his works. His creations have a unique character and style, and if he stays true to this uniqueness, then I’m sure he will go far.”
Rupert Myer, the chairperson of the Australian Council for The Arts, also compared Chng to Down Under greats like Albert Tucker whose works touched on socialism and politics. He saw parallels in Chng’s quest to have viewers reflect on layers of meaning – be it through telling and reminding, passing on memories, or seeing something through observing something else. “These are works of art that carry a common language, speak without barriers and go beyond boundaries,” Myer added.
The artist’s art journey began in the early 1990s when he was doing his Bachelor and Masters in Commerce at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia. Whilst buried in books on weekdays, he would spend his free time on weekends doing pottery and painting. And he never looked back. To date, Chng has participated in almost 70 group or solo shows in Malaysia and internationally. 

Embracing Oneself Again, 38cm, 2019
Bronze, Limited Edition of 8

Besides his masterpieces, Chng also holds numerous prominent positions in arts and culture-related bodies including President of the Penang Art Society, President of the Penang Antique Collectors Association, and was a board member of both the National Art Gallery of Malaysia and Penang State Art Gallery. He also founded ArtGrup Penang and One East Museum.

King Of Straits Chinese Porcelain

by CHT & Glen Chee

Famille rose kamchengs or covered jars are considered the ‘must have’ among Straits Chinese porcelain specialist collectors. There are two major types of kamchengs that are considered to be Straits Chinese between the period of mid 19th to early 20th century. The famille rose enamels are colourful and gaudy wares that are usually presented as gifts and used during ceremonial occasions to display the opulence and affluence of the Straits Chinese Peranakan families. The other category of kamchengs are the Kitchen Qing blue and whites that were mass produced and exported to South East Asia mainly for utilitarian usage. The word Kamcheng pronounced in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect from Fujian carries the connotations of love, affection and relationship. Among the Straits Chinese Peranakan community,  most have opined that these colourful kamchengs were used for storing cooked rice or as soup tureens and used during special and auspicious occasions. However, in recent years, the television series ‘Little Nyonya’ had dramatised the colourful kamcheng into an item that the bride would bring along to her new home after the wedding ceremony. Perhaps this dramatisation could be interpreted as the kamcheng signifies or seals the ‘kamcheng’ (relationship) between both families through the wedding ceremony. Hence, many collectors and enthusiasts have started to accept and preach this analogy. 

There is no doubt that these is food containers but there are no evidence suggesting that only the colourful ones were actually used for ready cooked food or as a momento for brides. In fact these porcelain pieces were mainly used as storage jars for dried food and herbs in China and other countries where the Chinese had migrated to. It is common to find traditional Chinese medicine halls using the blue and white kamchengs as herbal jars. It may well be that only the affluent families could afford having these famille rose porcelain to match their other table wares. Large kamchengs made during the mid 19th to early 20th century are hardly found in China but most extant pieces are found in Southeast Asia. Some rarely encountered leviathan kamchengs can comfortably hold a sitting baby! As for the mini or baby kamchengs, it is accepted that they were predominantly used for storing valuable daily health supplements or life saving medicinal pills.

The blue and white kamchengs are comparatively much cheaper than the colourful ones. Prices for the coloured pieces greatly depend on the ground colour, size, motif designs and markings. A big rare kamcheng may fetch more than RM100, 000 whereas a green ground baby kamcheng could be asking for RM5,000. Beginners  should be vigilant that there are a good number of fakes and a significant  amount of reproduction items in the markets asking for genuine antique prices. 

G.C Art & Heritage Art Collection
Blue and White Kamchengs 
Found in old Chinese medicine halls and pharmacies

Ancient Jade Fetching Millions

Jade has been revered by the Chinese culture for centuries not only for its beauty and spiritual aspects, but more importantly because it resembles one’s status. Ancient jade carvings of mystical figures from the Han or Song dynasties are very popular among collectors and have been fetching very high prices in auction houses around the world.   

Han Dynasty or later
Auction House – Bonham

5 Apr 2016, 11:00 HKT
Hong Kong, Admiralty
Sold for HK$ 21,960,000 
(MYR 12,359,530) inc. premium
Han Dynasty or later
Auction House – Bonham

5 Apr 2016, 11:00 HKT
Hong Kong, Admiralty
Sold for HK$ 24, 760,000 
(MYR 13,737,084) inc. premium

Auction House – Sotheby’s 

J. J. Lally & Co., New York, 1993.
Sold for EUR 4,207,500 
(MYR 19,807,892) inc. premium
Han Dynasty or later
Auction House – Bonham

5 Apr 2016, 11:00 HKT
Hong Kong, Admiralty
Sold for HK$ 24, 760,000 
(MYR 13,737,084) inc. premium
Song Dynasty or later
Auction House – Bonham

5 Apr 2016, 11:00 HKT
Hong Kong, Admiralty
Sold for HK$ 19,160,000 
(MYR 10,783,634) inc. premium
Auction House – Christie’s 

30 Nov 2016 Christie’s Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall
Price realised HK$ 19,860,000
(MYR 11,187,481) inc. premium

London – Luxury Is Great Britain

Britain has developed a taste for luxury over the centuries and perfected the art of showcasing its elegant side to her visitors. Enjoy fashionable restaurants, shopping and culture, and hire historical castles and islands to stay and play at. Get a taste for the life lived by royalties. For your shopping spree, seek out the royal crest above shop doors to unlock the highest quality products favoured by none other than the Queen of England. 

The Attraction

The Shard

The best view of London can be seen from The Shard’s 72nd floor — The View from The Shard with unparalleled 360-degree view for up to 40 miles. The 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark is London’s new emblem. Besides its extraordinary and exquisite architectural design, The Shard houses many occupiers including the famous Shangri-la Hotel as well as retailers, restaurants, offices, education institution, medical and more. 

Opened in July 2012, The Shard’s designer Renzo Piano was inspired by the spires of London churches and the tall ships depicted by Venetian painter Canaletto. Visit The Shard website for more architectural designs that include the eight sloping glass facades’, the ‘shards’, the architectural shape and visual quality of the tower, the unique glass designed to reflect the lights in unpredictable ways and more.

The Shard is utterly impressive and certainly a vision of inspirations. Catch London’s iconic sights of the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, River Thames, The London Eye, The Cheesegrater, The Gherkin and many more from this amazing skyscraper.

The Shard
Address: 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG, United Kingdom
Contact: +44 844 499 7111
Business Hours: 10am – 10pm

Blenheim Palace

A World Heritage Site as designated by United Nations, Blenheim Palace was the gift by Queen Anne and a grateful nation to the first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill and his wife, Sarah Churchill, for his great victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. It is also the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of a ‘palace’.

Worthy of a visit for its famed history and architecture, Blenheim Palace’s architecture was built in the English Baroque style by architect John Vanbrugh. Enrol for their Lights, Camera and Action tour and be enthralled by the amazing mass ornamentation through the rooms of The Great Hall, The Green and Red Drawing Rooms, The Saloon, The State Rooms, The Long Library and more. Baroque grandeur and bold colours trapezed throughout the palace, leaving one in awe of its majestic appearance.

Perhaps a reminiscent of a James Bond film Spectre may further entice one to visit Blenheim Palace if its history did not lure one’s attention. Filmed at its courtyard, the car chase scene in Spectre did ultimately boost Blenheim Palace to higher fame. There were certainly many more famous movies that were also filmed at this palace.

Expect to spend at least half a day here unless you’re a history junkie who pauses at every glorious space of the palace, then one may well take up a full day at Blenheim Palace. 

Blenheim Palace
Address: Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP, United Kingdom 
Contact: +44 1993 810530

Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang

Kneeling Archer
Qin Dynasty 221–207 BCE
120.0 cm (H)
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s
Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an (2812)

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) presents the Melbourne Winter Master-pieces, featuring a dual presentation of past and present Chinese art and culture. Opening in May, this exhibition will bring forth this concept by exhibiting the world famous ancient Terracotta Warriors alongside a parallel display of new works by famous contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang.

The Terracotta Warriors are known as the guardians of immortality and the eighth wonder of the world. This exhibition will feature eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, as well as two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses. ‘The Transient Landscape’ by Cai Guo-Qiang on the other hand will see new art works inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions, including a monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds.

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Cai Guo-Qiang, Qatar, 2016
Photo by Wen-You Cai, courtesy Cai Studio

Firearms The Art of London

Pair of Flintlock Pistols

These pistols are among the finest known examples of English Neoclassical-style firearms. Each stock is inlaid with engraved sheet silver and embellished with heavy cast-silver mounts. This decoration was inspired by contemporary French Empire firearms, such as those by Boutet also in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection (acc. nos. 36.58a–c, 42.50.7a–n, and 1970.179.1). Several of the motifs are based on ancient Roman sources. On the sideplate, for example, the Nereid riding a sea-leopard derives from an engraving of 1762 depicting a wall painting in the recently found ruins of Herculaneum. On the trigger guard, the oval medallion representing Hercules with a defeated Amazon is copied from a well-known antique gem. The Medusa head on the butt also derives from Classical art, but here the idealized model has been transformed into a grimacing, almost humorous caricature of the legendary gorgon.

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Made by John Manton & Son (British, London 1815–1878). British, London, ca. 1815–34. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Collection of Giovanni P. Morosini, presented by his daughter Giulia, 1932 (32.75.138–.139)

Pair of Flintlock Pistols

The original owner of this remarkably decorated pair remains unknown, but the pistols’ opulence and French character suggests they may have belonged to George IV (1762–1830) or someone in his circle. Their gold-inlaid locks are the most lavish ever produced by John Manton’s firm during his lifetime. The carved eagle on the grip—a feature also found on a pair of the king’s pistols, made for him when he was Prince of Wales, now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle (Acc. no. RCIN 6166)—is here further enhanced with gold-inlaid eyes. Similarly expressive lions may be found adorning the pommels of contemporary Parisian firearms, a possible source of inspiration for the accomplished steel chiseler Manton commissioned to create the mounts for this unique pair. The mounts, which include elaborate belt hooks chiseled with swirling acanthus leaves, are unsigned.

British gunmakers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries seldom deviated from the sober style that brought them fame throughout Europe and distinguished their work from that of the Continent. But for wealthy clients, particularly the Prince of Wales, later George IV (1762–1830), they shed standard decorative patterns in favor of more ostentatious embellishments. The prince was the preeminent patron of contemporary London gunmakers from the late 1780s through the 1820s, and over his lifetime he commissioned dozens of superlative firearms for sporting, personal use, and presentation. Gunmakers enhanced select firearms and accessories for the prince by substituting silver mounts for traditional steel, adding engraved and gilt ornament to the locks and barrels, and personalizing the weapons with the royal arms and Prince of Wales feathers. But the prince’s affinity for all things French also sometimes guided the gunmakers’ decorative choices. Indeed, he built his palatial London home at Carlton House (demolished in 1827) with an eye to the French Neoclassical style and decorated it with artworks, furniture, and other accoutrements from France. The most elaborate works by royally favored gunmakers catered to this taste and achieved a graceful blend of French-inspired decoration with traditional British design and technology.

Pair of Four-Barreled Turnover Percussion Pistols17.jpg

Made by James Purdey the Elder (British, London 1784–1863 Margate). British, London, ca. 1831. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1935 (35.41.1–.15)

Pair of Four-Barreled Turnover Percussion Pistols of Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (1785–1851), with Pair of Box-Lock Turn-Off Pocket Pistols, Case, and Accessories

Recent archival research revealed this lavish set to be one of the costliest pistol ensembles ever made by James Purdey, selling for £101 10s in 1831. Purdey made just ten four-barreled pistols in his career, and this pair is the only surviving set cased with pocket pistols. It is remarkable, too, for its exceptional state of preservation. The combination of vivid blueing, case-hardening, and finely finished wood looks much as it would have to the original owner, the fourth Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne.

One of the most famous British aristocrats of his era, the fourth Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne took delivery of this lavish pistol set from Purdey in April 1831. The duke purchased it for self-defense three months after being assaulted by a mob in the streets of Newark. The attack was prompted by his vigorous opposition to electoral reform, a contentious national issue that reached a boiling point in the early 1830s. Roughly six months after the duke acquired his pistols, the House of Lords rejected a new reform bill, resulting in widespread public violence. Several private residences were attacked, including the duke’s Nottingham mansion, which rioters burned to the ground on October 10, 1831. The duke was in London at the time. Weapons with a small customer base among the elite, Purdey’s four-barreled pistols show the great expense that members of the aristocracy lavished on firearms for personal protection.

Xi’an City of Ancient History & Good Food

Formerly known as Chang’an, Xi’an is one important ancient city in the world that you absolutely must visit! It is now a popular tourist site because of its rich history and good food.


5 top places in Xi’an:

1. Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum

Listed as a world UNESCO heritage site, the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum located in the Lintong District is the tomb of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. It also holds the world famous Terracotta Army.

2. Bell Tower

Built in the early Ming Dynasty, the Bell Tower of Xi’an is located right at the centre of the city and is an important landmark of Xi’an. It is one of its finest kind in China.

3. Famen Temple Cultural Scenic Area

Known as the second cultural symbol of Shaanxi, the Famen Temple Cultural Scenic Area is renowned for storing the Finger Bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha. One of its sectors, the Namaste Dagoba, has a fascinating theatre performance of the history of Famen Temple that you should not miss!

4. Qianling Mausoleum

The Qianling Mausoleum is where tombs of the imperial family of the Tang Dynasty are located. This includes the tombs of the famous Emperor Tang Gaozong and his wife, Emperor Wu Zetian, the only female Emperor to ever rule in China.

5. Muslim Quarter

Rich in culture and it’s abundance of delicious food, the Muslim Quarter not only enclaves the majority of the Muslim population of Xi’an, but has also turned into one of the most visited tourist spots in the district!


5 top dishes in Xi’an:

1. Biang Biang noodles

Savoury and chewy in taste, the classic Biang Biang noodles made from wheat flour are served with vinegar and topped with assorted vegetables and braised meats. ‘Biang’ describes the sound made when the noodle dough is slapped against the working surface repeatedly.

2. Liang Pi

Made from wheat or rice flour, Liang Pi (Cold Skin Noodles) is a local snack where cold thinly sliced rice noodles are  drizzled with chilli oil sauce and topped with spices and vegetables. It is a yummy vegan dish!

3. Rou Jia Mo

Invented in the Qin Dynasty, Rio Jia Mo is the oldest hamburger in the world, It is a crispy handmade bread with tender stewed fatty pork patty stuffed in the middle! Other meat alternatives are also available.

4. Yang Rou Pao Mo

Yang Rou Pao Mo is a dish where hand-pulled flatbread crumbles are cooked in a flavourful mutton broth with rice vermicelli and topped with slices of lamb or beef of your choice and pickled sweet garlic. Hand-pulling the flatbread is also a time to gossip and socialize for locals!

5. Suan Tang Shui Jiao

Suan Tang Shui Jiao with locally made mutton dumplings are boiled in a mouth-watering hot and sour soup. Every dumpling is an explosion of flavour! Sesame seeds, chopped leeks and cilantro are added to make the dish pop!