vintage chinese-thai tin

Several centuries ago, the first “Thai” people began migrating into Thailand from their homeland in southern China. It started as a trickle. Then when Kublai Khan conquered their kingdom (in today’s China), waves of these ancient Thais flooded into Thailand. But today, those people descended from settlers of centuries ago have lost all vestiges of a history in China, and many don’t even realize they once upon a time came from China themselves.

The people known as Chinese Thais are more recent immigrants who sailed from China on sampans, flat-bottomed sailboats, and built wealth as thriving traders. In Bangkok’s Chinatown you’ll still find elderly residents who speak their native Chinese tongues. Shop signs scream in Chinese characters, but the young generations are likely to know only a smattering of words, things like “grandma” and holiday greetings.

Buoyed with the earnings from copious gold shops and trading riches, the Chinese Thais were flush with spending money, populating their homes with beautiful things and exquisite foods. This vintage tin once held sugary fried noodle sweets. Chinese dragons fly along the side in turquoise and sapphire scales amongst golden clouds. The top is a honeypot of symbolism. The old man, sporting a melon-shaped noggin, is Shou Xing, the God of Longevity. He was bald since since birth, though the long flowing beard grew with time. He holds in his hand a peach, delicious symbol of longevity – as is the deer, the pine tree and the crane. The bat is symbol of fortune, but according to Chinese philosophy there are five kinds of fortune – one is longevity… so perhaps this is the link?

Found: Bangkok, Thailand


shou xing


chinese-thai tin

chinese dragon