Vintage Asian is an art, design and culture blog. An online gallery of vintage Asian design, oriental antiques and art, and retro Asian culture - music, fashion, film. Curated by hand. Memories of memories - each item in the collection has a story. Browse to start the remembering process.

Indian
Old Indian Photographs

Old Indian Photographs

Forgotten photographs of Hindu pilgrims. When I was twenty years old, I visited the holy city of Rameshwaram. The southeastern most point of India, it stretches out into the sea, just a stone’s throw from Sri Lanka. Though at that time the civil war in Sri Lanka was raging and the only people who regularly...
Vintage Indian Commercial - Limca

Vintage Indian Commercial – Limca

Local flavour. My last post dipped into India’s soda wars. Read about it in this entry with a vintage Indian ad for Gold Spot. Another favourite ‘cool drink’ and for many years the domestic market leader was Limca. It’s a lemon-lime drink. Bottled like a soda but much less carbonated than your typical fizzy. Watch...
Vintage Indian Soda Commercial - Gold Spot

Vintage Indian Soda Commercial – Gold Spot

Cool drinks. A friend in India once asked me, ‘Why do foreigners drink so many cool drinks?’ (‘Cool drinks’ being Indian English for what goes by the name ‘soda’ or ‘pop’ in much of the rest of the English-speaking world). I had never really thought about the question, but I guessed that it was a...
Bette Davis Eyes

Bette Davis Eyes

Vintage Indian Baby Photo Look at the peepers on this little girl. Sure, she’s naturally beautiful, but the kohl around the eyes really helps them pop. Indian mothers have traditionally applied kohl to their babies’ eyes – for a variety of reasons. It’s said to be healthy for the eyes, protects them from sun, helps...
Madurai 1945

Madurai 1945

Film footage from the South Indian city of Madurai in 1945. I have fond memories of this city. Some places seep into you, leaving a part of themselves running through your veins and forever changing you. For me this is Madurai. Of course part of it has to do with my age. As a teenager...
Heavenly Union

Heavenly Union

Beautiful dualities. Over the centuries a struggle for supremacy has taken place on the spiritual battlefield. Hinduism, which today is usually perceived as a single religion, is in reality a gargantuan amalgamation of religious traditions, philosophies, rituals, deity cults, official theologies, folk traditions. The notion of these diverse – and sometimes conflicting – traditions as...
Hand-coloured Indian Photograph

Hand-coloured Indian Photograph

The shimmer of gold. Swathes of emerald, turquoise and the bright orange shade of kanakambaram blossoms radiate from the sarees. I love the way that so many hand-coloured Indian photograph focus on adorning the adornments. Jewellery shines. Jasmine flowers, ever-present in a South Indian woman’s hair, gleam bright white. Forehead markings – sometimes decorative, sometimes...
Baby, You're a Star

Baby, You’re a Star

Vintage Baby Photo from Madras. A beautiful baby is just asking for trouble. So the widespread belief across India goes. It’s still a common practice to ward off the evil eye (and used to be much more common) by blighting a child’s good looks with a black smudge of kohl. Usually the mark takes the...
Vintage Biscuit Tin

Vintage Biscuit Tin

Once upon a time, this tin held milk chocolate biscuits. It was produced by Cadbury India some time between the late 1940s and the 1960s. The designs curve and swirl delightfully Indic, like a southern kolam dancing through a Mughal arch. Three designs grace its sides: the kolam style swirls seen above, the wheel design...
Forgotten Mosque

Forgotten Mosque

“God is beautiful, and He loves beauty.” - Muhammad   A few years ago I went back to visit my old neighborhood in South India. Unfortunately I couldn’t see my apartment, as my landlady had long since packed up. A North Indian woman, head veiled with her flowing saree, replied only in silent surprise at...
Indian Dowry Antiques

Indian Dowry Antiques

Lost Heritage. This vintage enamelware is from India, most likely via Sweden. Families of the Chettiar caste, who hail from the rural Chettinadu region of South India, amassed vast fortunes as moneylenders in the British Empire. Using this wealth, they built extravagant homes and mansions in their homeland, filled with imported objects from Europe and...
"Modern" Litho Works

“Modern” Litho Works

Vintage Indian Lithograph. I love lithographs. The studio name on this vintage work strikes me with pleasure: “Modern Litho Works Bombay”. This “framing picture”, as it is colourfully known in Indian English, presents a pantheon of gods and goddesses. The Shiva-faced linga in the large left frame stands out. I find this detail captivating, and...