Antiques of Jew Town
Jew Town is the narrow street between Mattancherry Palace and the Pardesi Synagogue in Kochi, India. It is famous for the antique shops all along its sides. The colonial buildings lining the street add to its old-world charm. The curio and antique shops along the street are capable of enchanting the visitors with their variety and rarity. The Jew Street is lined with shops that sell curios, antique pieces of crockery, carved wooden furniture, bronze and brass sculptures, remnants of traditional houses, and jewellery. The antique sellers of these streets are the descendants of a fast dwindling population of Jews who settled down here in AD 52. Every piece that they sell has its own tale to narrate – of a palace or a home of the nobility, of travels across many lands and ages.
The 20th century witnessed large-scale migration of Jews to Israel with the result that many dwellings on Jew Town became unoccupied. Antiques such as carved wooden furniture and vessels, as well as curios from these dwellings were collected and kept for sale in the shops on Jew Town. Gradually, the demand for such items increased, especially among tourists. Consequently, there emerged many antique shops selling articles of Indian, European, Chinese and Arab origin. Coupled with this growth was the appearance of many handicraft and garment shops of ethnic products.
The antique shops on Jew Town store anything and everything that can be described as antique and that may catch the eye of a tourist. Jewellery, crockery, wooden pillars, curios, wooden and metal figurines, statuettes, carved wooden furniture and handicrafts like wooden elephants, mirrors, wall hangings, paintings – you name it, they have it. There are also lamps, Chinese urns, door frames, vintage photographs, and glass and porcelain ware that were once part of churches or homesteads of noble families. Apart from these antiques, one can find sculptures, handmade toys, embroidered garments, floral oils, and chandeliers in many other shops along the street.
At one end of the Jew Street, towards the synagogue, is the Ginger Restaurant. A blue mermaid awaits all visitors with a wet welcome. Ginger Restaurant is a casual sit down restaurant in an extremely convenient location in the middle of Jew Town. Ambience was pleasant as restaurant is located in a well managed antique store right on waterfront. Service was slow but that was not unusual as they make to order. Hygiene and cleanliness were at a high level and we could eat without concern. Prices were quite high for a casual sit down restaurant but one must pay just for the ambience of the harbour and the lake with surface transport and naval ships.