During my June holiday, i decided to go to the Singapore National Museum for my heritage trail. I chose to go there as i have never been to that museum and wanted to learn more about Singapore’s history. Although in our secondary schools we have already been taught about the history of Singapore through Social Studies, i still wanted to learn more in detail and see the artifacts in real life. In the National Museum, there were four main sections in order which were “Singapura“, “Crown Colony“, “Syonan-to” and “Singapore“. However, i was more interested in the events that took place during the “Singapura” period and during “Syonan-to”.
The Singapura period ( 1299-1818)
The earliest records to mention Singapore described it as a thriving port in the 14th century. There were many trading involved with China, Malaysia, Thailand and India, thus there were chinese porcelain wares and stonewares traded, along with locally-made pottery or natural products such as hornbill casques and laka wood.
I also got to see the Singapore Stone which i’ve always wanted to see it in person as i saw an image of it in my social studies textbook. I learned that one of these stones was once a sandstone boulder, however it was later split into two nearly equal parts and faced each other at an angle of about forty degrees. It is said that the boulder had been hurled from nearby Fort Canning Hill by a strong man named Badang. The stone is one of the three which have been blown up in 1843 to build military quarters. The interesting part about the Singapore Stone is that the inscriptions on it have still not been fully deciphered till this day.
(This is a picture of some of the artifacts found at Ford Canning Hill and Singapore River.)
(This are Gold earrings and armlet found at Ford Canning Hill in 1928)
I learned that many rich people back in the day lived around Fort Canning Hill and Singapore River as many jewelry and expensive pottery was found in that area. For example, Singapore is said to be one of the first places in the world to acquire the Blue-and-white porcelain, which was found in the North bank of the Singapore River. These porcelain were also some of the first ceramics to be made using cobalt blue decoration. Also, the designs on them were simple, mainly scrolls, flowers, leaves, ducks and water weeds. Another example is that white porcelains such as cups and bowls were highly valued, and was used mostly by the well-to-do families in the 14th century. The jewelry shown in the picture was the same type that was worn by a king in West Sumatra, which tells us that only the rich could own these.
Another new thing i learned was that the hill that we now call Fort Canning used to be a burial place of Sri Tri Buana, whom was one of the first ruler of Singapura in the 14th century. The hill was then known as Bukit Larangtan which means Forbidden Hill, and is said to be inhabited by ghosts. They left a shrine for people to visit the hill today.
The Syonan-to period (1942-1945)
Since i have learn most about the Japanese occupation through Social Studies lesson in secondary school, i was only interested in looking at the weapons used by the Japanese soldiers.
(This are the weapons used during the war, and beside it are cups used to drink their Sake)
(This is the Singapore Surrender table used when the British surrendered unconditionally to the Imperial Japanese Army)
One new fact that i learned after the British returned and the Japanese surrendered was that the Japanese troops reluctantly complied with the order and many committed ritual suicide as they could not accept the defeat.
To conclude my heritage trail trip to the National Museum, i was glad that i chose this place as i got to learn some interesting facts about Singapore’s history, as well as watching video clips of the past such as old dramas in black and white, listening to old recordings and looking at the artifacts in real life. I am happy to have shared this experience with my friend Samson as i felt that it was a fulfilling trip!