Macau: Tak Seng On Pawn Shop Museum UNESCO
I have a love-hate relationship with Macau. While this socially shallow place leaves a gaping hole in my soul for the lack of intellectual stimulation in the community, there’s so much rich and deep cultural history in this country shadowed by the glitzy casinos and what’s brighter, bigger and better that’s making the news headlines.
Most of all what I love about Macau is the random beauty of this place – the day to day routine of multi-generational diners, food is still made from scratch at the markets and truly artisanal from noodles to biscuits to cakes, the wet markets are full of seasonal food which housewives and grandmas continue to cook the same recipes over and over. Macau reminds me of Singapore in the old days… which I have distinct memories of going to the wet market with my mum and grandma, watching vendors slaughter live chicken, fish (they still do it at the Macau Red Market 红街市), grate fresh coconut for us to take home to make curries.
So pawn shops have been around for a very long time here and you’ve probably seen the emblem in neon and as badges around Hong Kong and Macau – it’s actually an outline of a bat holding on to a ball. The word bat in Cantonese Fu is homophonous with the word prosperity.
Tak Seng On was then Macau’s largest multi storey Pawn Shop
How valuables were kept – behind bars in a cage
Upstairs other material goods were kept in these stacked shelves.
My soft spot for pawn shops is kudos to my late grandmother who doted on me and left me many of her favourite pieces, all purchased at the Singapore pawn shops. This ring in particular is one of my favourites and my dad told me countless of times the same story that she bought it from a gambler pawning his beautiful wife’s ring to pay off debts. Love the details and almost architectural structure of it.
The other 福 symbol pendant was not from a pawn shop, but a gift exhumed from the grave to pay my grandma for her kindness when she gave money to a poor family for their family member’s burial. It is believed that it’s good luck and spiritual and karmic value it embodies is invaluable and we’ve all took turns to wear it as kids as an amulet from my dad to my brothers and now myself.
**I had nearly lost the pendant sometime this year and turned the flat upside down. This was between a trip to France, China and back home to Singapore and then moving apartments all in the same month. Thank goodness I found it back in Singapore a month later on a trip back.
You’d quite easily walk past it on the main street that runs on Senado Square, so keep your eyes peeled as you admire the beautiful colourful art deco architecture on this street.
396 Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau
+853 2892 1811
Admission: 5MOParchitecture, history, jewellery, Macau, museum, pawn shop, UNESCO