South Asia was the last Gallery that we had to see, another one that was full on interesting displays.
This one is a little different, as in the main South Asian gallery there was a selection of coins,
jewellery and terracotta figures from early civilisations.
A lot of the gallery, has quite a bright display of religious artefacts. South Asia was the birthplace of two of the world's major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. We saw a good collection of stone Hindu gods, and Shiva and Ganesha. Early Buddhist artefacts on show, include statues and stupa models.
Four teak pillars symbolise a courtyard of the Chettiars, a money-lending clan from Tamil Nadu, who became the early bankers of Singapore. Here we learn about their village life, and how they worship local gods and hold colourful processions.
In the long corridor, there were old photo's of Indian life in Singapore in the colonial period. From here, it was to information on the Sikh, Indian Muslim and Jain communities, which continue to live in Singapore today.
We both thought this Museum was very good, and were glad we had gone for a look.
Now we are going to have a look at the Gallery on China.
Named the "Kwek Hong Png China Gallery," it winds around in the form of a Dragon, one of the most important symbols in Chinese culture.
On display is a Dragon Robe, which embodies within it the majesty, power and status of the Emperor. Here we learn of Confucious and his ideals, which placed the father at the head of the family, just as the emperor was the head of state. Great care was taken to respect and look after one's elders and ancestor's, and still is today.
There were more paintings and calligraphy on display, Chinese ceramic's, Buddhist stone statues and reliefs, wooden & gilt bronze Buddhist figure's, some dating back to the 7th century, and beautiful outfits, head-dresses and mask's.
The white Dehua porcelain looked very fine. These pieces were from the Ming and Qing periods were produced in the Fujian province in southern China.
Another great gallery!
These galleries covered three of the major religions, Judism, Christianity and Islam that originated in West Asia.
The gallery focused mainly on Islam, which still continues to have a major effect on the shaping of Singapore and the surrounding region. Islam's god is "Allah."
It showed how Islamic artists have focused their skill and creativity on calligraphy. The Mosque was beautifully painted and shouldn't be missed!
It was built so that when we entered, we were facing towards Mecca, the direction of prayer for all Muslims.
The three Southeast Asia galleries cover over 2,500 years of history.
These galleries I really enjoyed!
We saw ceramic and bronze pieces that dated back to 600BC.
We saw Drum's, more Ceramics, Clothing, Ritual object's, we learnt about the monsoons and the importance of the rainy season for a bumper Rice crop. Then, we walked through to the Javanese Kingdoms, the Malay world and the hill and island tribes, reading about how centres sprang up as a result of the trade in spices and exotic forest products.
Objects belonging to the world of the sultans were on display and also pieces belonging to the Batak, Nias of South East Asia.
The Mary and Philbert Chin Gallery had jewellery and textiles. weaving and metalwork, and a range of designs, shapes and motifs that were used across Southeast Asia.
We saw a Javanese gamelan orchestra, masks and puppets from Cambodia to Indonesia, some of them look pretty fearsome, these South East Asia Galleries were great!
What else were we going to see in this Museum?
We first walked into the gallery named "THE SINGAPORE RIVER"
Here was the story of how Trader's were interested in Singapore, and how Archaeological finds have given evidence of Maritime trading from as early as the 14th century. Found, were 14th century Chinese ceramics, which would have been expensive luxuries at the time. Also found was a tiny figure of a horse and rider in the Majapahit style (the Majapahit Kingdom was a dominant power in the region at the time), this is on display.
Singapore became wealthy with the amount of trading going on, and we saw a display of how the 'coolies' lived, nothing fancy here, only cramped living conditions, gangs, opium addiction and gruelling work.
From what we read in the River Gallery, we learnt about the lives of the coolies and Chettiars, the indigenous Orang Laut and the newly arrived Europeans.
It was good to begin our tour here, as this is the start to a journey into the other galleries, where we journeyed even further back into the past and the myriad cultures of Asia.
The Museum itself is located in a beautiful old building.
We were here on a Saturday, and once inside, we went to pay our admission fee, and were told it was a "free" day. Lucky for us, we saved $16s!
The Museum traces the lives of the Singaporean's from early days to now, with a wonderful collection of artifact's. There are over 11 galleries and three levels, with the story Asia told in themed Gallerie's.
The Gallery also holds temporary exhibition's, and we were very lucky a wealthy Singaporean businessman, had paid for some of China's Terracotta Warrior's to be brought out and put on display in the Museum.
We saw the Warrior's quite easily as they had us in a moving queue to enter the room, then we could walk around. It was very well set out and very interesting. I found out about this exhibition from the Tourist Information Centre.
ADMISSION IN 2011.....Adults $8s & Children $4s
Monday 1 - 7pm & Tuesday - Sunday 9 - 7pm and to 9pm on a Friday.
The Asian Civilizations Museum should be in the itinerary of every visitor to Singapore -- it provides a quite comprehensive view of the sophistication of East Asia's cultures many centuries before it was "discovered" by the West. The building used to be the registry office during the British rule, so it is not huge, but it's easy to imagine its original function -- the layout of the museum is still very much that of a "bureau." This does not make it very easy to navigate between one room to another. The collections, however, are excellent. The best examples and most valuable objects from the major cultures in Asia are shown, as well as those from the original inhabitants, the multivaried ethnic groups.
Photos can be taken, without flash. There are frequent guided tours (the guides are international volunteers), so be sure to catch one, as there are details that one can easily miss. Along the rooms are seats, so no worries for those who want to rest from time to time.
There is a well-appointed restaurant on the side of the museum, which also has tables on the terrace overlooking the river. The museum shop has very good souvenirs, and from time to time, sell them at a big discount. A couple of weeks ago (late Oct 2011), there was 50% discount on many items -- a very good deal.
The museum is located close to the Raffles Place MRT, the Covenaugh Bridge, and not too far from the Merlion. It's quite interesting. There are exhibits with ceramics, Indonesian puppets, and many other related things. If they give you a survey, you may get a magnet for completing and returning the survey.
The museum has an annex near the Singapore Philatelic Museum and not too far from the YMCA and Plaza Singapura but that annex is closed for rennovations. I think it will open in late 2008 or 2009.
The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) has 2 locations. One at Empress Place which is by the Singapore River and the other at Armenian Street (closed for renovation till 2008).
The Empress Place Exhibits are spread over 3 levels and has artefacts of China, SEA, South Asia and West Asia. There are guided tours or you can simply walk the whole museum with a map whcih you could get it when you purchase your ticket at the counter.
The Armenian Street ACM is a Peranakan Museum. The Peranakans are the descendants of Chinese who intermarried the Malays. The males are called Babas and Nyonyas are the females.
Asian Civilization Museum has two buildings, and here I will write about the "Armenian" branch (as it is located on Armenian street).
I went there in 2004 and the museum is dedicated to "Peranakan" culture, a culture which I come from. "Peranakan" is the name given to Chinese immigrants in South East Asia who have embraced parts of Malay and Western (Dutch in Indonesia and English in Malaysia & Singapore) culture.
They are normally descendant of 14th century immigrants (as opposed to the Chinese speaking 19th century immigrants).
The museum has a large collections of photographs, clothing articles, furnitures and stories of prominent Peranakan families in Singapore.
It is not too large, so a couple of hours is enough to see pretty much all of the museum, and I recommend that you pay a visit to get a bit of introduction to this unique culture.
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