One of my favourite things to do in Paris was chiner – a word that doesn’t seem to have a precise English translation. It means bargain-hunting but for antiques or curios in flea markets (brocantes) or antique shops (some links below). I loved the unexpected discoveries, glimpses of lives that were pressed softly into objects over time and have left marks like iridescent shapes tossed about by maple leaves in the winter light.
A dizzying magic, an invitation to listen to the soul of a thing.
I spent many a Saturday afternoon at the Rue du Marché Popincourt and have brought home random things, from stray wooden rabbits and old mismatched buttons to postcards written in beautiful cursive manuscript.
I come from a place where new is always good, always better than old. We raze memory-laden landmarks and homes to build road tunnels. We don’t buy or sell second-hand anything unless we have no choice or it’s an antique that would fetch more with time. Newish bicycles, photo frames and microwave ovens are abandoned without thought. There was a hollowness in this place which I didn’t understand, until I lived in Paris where old things were cherished for their patina of stories.
Respecting and cherishing stuff beyond newness and utility. The Japanese believe that man-made things have spirits, tsukumogami, which could refer to any object “that has reached their 100th birthday and thus become alive and self-aware.” I find this belief system fascinating, and I’m persuaded it’s true.
Sharing some links if you like to chiner a.k.a story-hunting in Paris:
Daily prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/contrast-2/