6 November 2016 – remember the date.
It was the day where Henry Butcher Asset Auctioneers held its first Peranakan-themed auction, “Treasures of the Peranakan World and Straits Chinese”. The items on auction – more than 600 altogether, divided to 91 lots – covered the major life stages of any Peranakan individual, from their birth to their marriage and to their death.
The lots were divided into six categories:
- Furniture and woodcarving
- Literature and rare historical painting
- Porcelain and glassware
- Textile and beadwork
- Silver and metalworks
Assisting Henry Butcher on its inaugural Peranakan auction is guest curator and advisor Henry Bong, J.P. (Kelantan), CEO and Founder of Pucuk Rebung, a well-respected authority on Peranakan culture and art, and is of Peranakan descent himself.
The morning started with a packed hall in Galeri Prima in Balai Berita NSTP, all eager to bring something home. Some were still looking at the lots, wanting to pick out all the intricate details they can find.
The climax of the auction – if there is any – was when it came to the porcelain and glassware category, culminating in many a tense standoff between bidders. Many were eager to bring back the trademark kamchengs that are perhaps synonymous with the culture, and bidders were geared to win at any cost.
The outcome? These lots were sold above their high estimate, and the crowd applause went on as if they watched a sparring match. A famille rose pink base kamcheng was sold for RM 27,000 (69% above its high estimate), while another kamcheng – this time with a green as its base colour went for RM 20,000.
However, the best performer that day wasn’t a kamcheng, but a teapot. A famille rose turquoise base teapot (with cover) was sold for RM 10,000 – almost 3 times its high estimate.
The auction lasted till the early hours of the afternoon, and where the various bidders and guests went away, knowing they had the privilege to see some priceless pieces on Peranakan culture. As Henry Butcher hopes that this will be an annual affair, you might want to keep your eyes and ears peeled.
UPPRE is the proud media partner for ‘Treasures of the Peranakan World and Straits Chinese’.