Sawankoloke-Sukhothai Wares from the Empress Place Site, Singapore
Cheryl-Ann Low, Curator, Singapore History Museum
Textual records suggest that Singapore and Thailand had a political
relationship in the 14th century. Wang Dayuan, a Chinese traveller who
visited Singapore in the 14th century recorded an attack by the Siamese
sometime before 1349. A 16th-century account records that a local ruler
in Singapore was a relative and vassal of the Siamese king. The former
was murdered and his position usurped by a renegade prince from
Palembang. the Siamese consequently drove the usurper out of Singapore.
An archaeological excavation was conducted at the Empress Place Building
site in 1998. The discovery of ceramics produced by the kilns of
Sawankoloke and Sukhothai in the 14th and 15th centuries adds another
dimension to the knowledge about the trading relationship between
Singapore (Temasek) and Thailand (Ayutthaya).
Musk Trade with Asia in the Early Modern Period
Peter Borschberg, Department of History, National University of
Musk, strictly speaking, is the odoriferous glandular secretion of the
Asian musk deer. In the English language, the term has been loosely
applied to a serious of potent odours (usually bodily fragrances) both
of animalic and non-animalic origin. For much of the early 16th to the
early 18th centuries, the origins of musk remained a mystery. This
article examines a host of aspects relating to the early modern musk
trade between Asia and Europe, including period beliefs on its animalic
origin, price structure, networks of trade, transport, forgeries and use
in daily life or as a substance in pharmacology.
The Cult and
Festival of the Goddess of the Sea - a Maiden Encounter with Mazu
Szan Tan, Assistant Curator, Asian Civilisations Museum
The belief in the Goddess of the Sea is still very much alive in Taiwan
today. During the annual celebration of her birthday, hundreds and
thousands of devotees flock to greet and worship her. This essay is
based largely on my personal experience during a Mazu birthday
celebration in Taiwan. It provides a first-hand account of the goddess'
continuing influence in modern day Taiwanese society. The Goddess of the
Sea is known popularly as Mazu, Tianfei, Tianhou (Heavenly Concubine),
Tianshang Shenmu (Empress of Heaven) and Tin Hau (also Heavenly Empress
in Cantonese, used by the people in Hong Kong). Her influence can be
attributed to the growth of coastal regions of China as trading and
economic centres. Mazu's popularity began in the fishing communities of
the southern coasts of China, especially in Fujian and Guandong. By the
19th century, the cult of Mazu had become deeply entrenched in Taiwan,
Hong Kong and many Chinese communities in Southeast Asia such as
Singapore, Malaysia (Malacca and Penang), and Indonesia (Semarang).
Notes and Reviews
Chung May Khuen, Singapore History Museum
Since 1996, the South Asia curatorial team of the Asian Civilisations
Museum has been conscientiously documenting the art and culture of South
Asians in India and Singapore. This paper highlights some of the lessons
learnt by the team during a three week working visit to North India.
Hopefully it will encourage and inspire more people to undertake similar
projects in India.
Articles from the
Art and Industry (originally published in Heritage, 1978)
Joseph McNally, LASALLE-SIA College for the Arts
This article was written in 1978 by the late Brother Joseph
McNally. Brother Joseph was an educator and artist, born in
Ireland but a citizen of Singapore. For many years he played
a key role in pushing for more investment in arts education
in Singapore, an effort that culminated in the formation of
the LASALLE-SIA College for the Arts. In this article
Brother Joseph argues for the importance of arts education
in design for industry. Interestingly his arguments are
aimed as much as artists concerned with "a nineteenth
century 'art for art's sake thinking'" as it is aimed at
planners and administrators who downplay the importance of
arts education. He also takes aim at the "spoon-feeding"
approach of Singapore education at the time. His words have
a great resonance in Singapore 25 years later, at a time
when design and creativity in education are receiving new
levels of attention.