Thursday, 19 June 2014

Our Elm Wood Antique Chinese Doors

In my garden are some antique Chinese doors
Oh the stories they could tell...

We found them in China in 2007 and had them restored.
We were told they are mid-18th century elm wood doors.
They now sit proudly at the back of our Melbourne garden.

At the time we were living in Hong Kong
and I was working for Las Vegas Sands,
who were building the Venetian in Macau.

I was also just about to get married
as the Hong Kong Government made it very difficult
for de facto relationships,
even those who had lasted over twenty years
with three children!

But that is a whole other story...
We were looking for a wedding present 
and this is what we chose.

Except that is not quite what we chose!
As we were staying in Macau for the weekend, 
we nipped across the border into China
to hunt for a suitable Chinese antique wedding present
Like you do!

We drove into the rugged rural countryside 
until we reached the warehouse in Zhuhai,
a city in the Pearl River Delta.

It was a bit of an overwhelming prospect 
as we were greeted by a 70,000 square foot warehouse 
with 20,000 dusty, dilapidated and frankly rather grotty bits of furniture.
We hunted through room after room searching... 

You needed an eye for the possible and huge amount of belief
that your money would turn into something lovely.

It was hard not to get side tracked
and some day I will share with you 
some of the other treasures we amassed that day.

We worked with an interpreter
to explain how we wanted each piece of furniture restored.
There was some utter confusion and disbelief at some of our Western choices.

Our doors had Chinese writing 
which was immediately impressed upon us would be removed,
tidied up during the restoration.
'But I love the Chinese writing, it has to stay'
'You want Chinese writing?'

Both the translator and the Chinese tradesman
seemed perplexed by this decision,
to keep what was in essence Chinese graffiti on our doors.

Apparently it says
'Whoever dumped these doors, must remove them immediately'
'Yes, I love the writing, can you make it darker?'
'Darker?' they both questioned.

The next problem was the wonderful rusted door latches
'Don't worry, we give you new latches'
'No new, keep old'

There was much scratching of heads
we are told to keep the old latches will cost more money, more work
They clearly think we are bonkers,
but apart from exchanged glances between our interpreter and the workman
they politely adhered to our requests
and the old adage that the customer is always right!

Keep graffiti and rusty old latches,
you could just imagine the conversations that night
when these Chinese men told their families!

We paid our money and left and surprisingly a few weeks later the 
heavy Chinese doors appeared at our Hong Kong front door.
We never unwrapped them, and months later
they went in our shipping container to Australia.

When we renovated our Melbourne house
the house and garden was planned with the doors in mind.

At night time we have the doors lit
it is a constant and joyful reminder of our past life in Asia
but they also became the symbol of the gateway 
into our new life in Australia.

Of course if we ever move, 
our favourite Chinese doors will have to come with us.
Oh the stories they could tell!

Linking with Vintage Inspired Link Party
Thanks to the hosts

Linking with Alphabe Thursday, thanks to Jenny
E is for Elmwood Antique Chinese doors

Thursday Favourite Things thanks to Katherine's Corner 

Share the Joy Thursday thanks to Love, Meri

Our World Tuesday
Thanks to all the hosts:
ArijaGattinaLady FiSylviaSandyJennifer

Rubbish Tuesday
Thanks to Rubbish by Roan

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