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  • From the Stacks - Highlights of the National Library

    stacks

    Singapore has inherited a rich published heritage thanks to its history, socio-political development and strategic location at the confluence of civilisations. It was once the publishing hub in the region and a body of printed works, manuscripts and records of every description have survived through the ages. Part of this fascinating legacy was showcased in an exhibition by the National Library of Singapore, From the Stacks: Highlights of the National Library – which took place from January 30 to August 28, 2016 at the National Library Gallery.

  • Traditional Malay Games

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    Fun and games were a lot simpler back in the day.

  • Dichetak Oleh - A walk through Kampong Gelam

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    The task of mapping the historical area of Kampong Gelam (often spelled as “Kampong Glam”) is a daunting one. One has to consider not only its labyrinth of former side streets and alleyways, but also the numerous paths and shortcuts traversed by the many that once worked and lived in the area. Although Kampong Gelam was gazetted as a conservation area in 1989, many of these routes and pathways had by then become a thing of the past. Various roads were expunged through the 1960s and 1970s, and business owners – including various printers and publishers – had already begun moving out or closing down their offices. To chart a trail through Kampong Gelam to better understand its history, it appears, is therefore always to be trailing behind its history, always a step too late to the scene of what was before.

  • Dignity After Death - Treating Human Remains with Respect

    In recent years, the display of human remains has become a topic of discussion in Western countries, particularly those with a history of colonialism. The Codes of Ethics provided by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Museum Association UK offer guidelines on how to handle such collections and address questions of aims, but they are primarily intended for Western societies that deal with opposition from “people of origin” – the descendants of the people whose remains are displayed. The guidelines do not specifically address human remains at museums in regions from which they originated.

  • Emily of Emerald Hill - Singaporean Identity on Stage

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    Stella Kon wrote Emily of Emerald Hill, drawing upon her Peranakan family background and experiences growing up in Singapore in the mid-20th century. The play won the Singapore National Playwriting Competition in 1983. It is a monologue about the life of Nyonya Emily Gan, who became the matriarch of a wealthy household through determination and sheer strength of character. In its rich characterisation of Peranakan life, the play expresses a distinctly Singaporean identity.

  • Everything in its Place - Reading Batik as a Marker of Social-Spatial Relations

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    Let us begin by asking ourselves a rather simple, if mundane, question: Why is it that when we survey the vast repertoire of batik styles and motifs we often come across certain patterns that are rather loud and crude in the manner they are rendered? And how come some of these patterns – such as the parang rusak or ‘broken sword’, which happens to be one of the ‘larangan’ (forbidden) patterns traditionally restricted to the royalty and aristocracy – were regarded as special and their use limited to the exclusive confines of the palace?

  • Finding Basapa - In search of a pioneer and his story

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    The first official census of 1824 recorded 756 Indians, 7% of the population of Singapore then. In just over a century, by 1931, the Indian population had grown to 50,000 people and continued to grow with time. The dynamic profile of Indian migrants included North as well as South Indians. The early migrants came as British troops or Sepoys, prisoners (political and otherwise) who contributed to Singapore’s infrastructure, traders, plantation workers, professionals and civil servants, policemen, and even as performing artists and craftsmen. These early migrants founded empires and institutions; inspired their community and others; and fought for their rights and beliefs. The increasing number of Indians also gave birth to several associations and organisations that served their agendas of religion, business and trade, arts and culture and even social reform. These organisations continue to be instruments of social bonding and cultural interaction till today.

  • Football Fever! - Kickoff @ Singapore Philatelic Museum

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    Football is widely considered the most popular sport in the world. From 11 June to 11 July 2010, people of different nations and cultures were watching the FIFA World Cup – the most prestigious and anticipated football event in the world. The previous World Cup tournament held in 2006 drew and amazing viewership of 26.3 billion.

  • Cotton Commodity - How Indian Textiles Shaped History

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    For the better part of the past two millennia from the time of writing in 2012, India was a leading source of textiles for trade. Cotton cloth, along with a much smaller but highly valuable quantity of silk, was traded from production and distribution centres in Gujarat in northwest India and the Coromandel Coast in the southeast. Little known today, these textiles had a wide ranging and lasting impact on human civilisation in interesting and sometimes surprising ways. These textiles were the subject of the exhibition, Patterns of Trade: Indian Textiles for Export, 1400-1900, held at the Asian Civilisations Musuem until 3 June 2012.

  • Creatures That Call Singapore Home

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    With much of the island a sprawl of brick and steel, it can be easy to forget that Singapore is also home to many creatures that thrived long before man arrived and still survive in surprising numbers in the green lungs of the city. A mere remnant remains of the rainforests, mangroves and coral reefs that once enveloped the island and its coastal fringes with a landscape of trees, swamps and tidal flats. But what habitats exist today harbour a bewildering diversity of wildlife that make Singapore a hotspot for urban biodiversity and a treasure trove of discoveries for students of natural history.

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