A Rare Glimpse into the History of Singapore

Recently, we were invited to view a part of the National Library’s Rare Collection. For a second I thought it was Rare books. Then I read on and found out it’s an exhibition with extremely rare, some never-seen-before artefacts that shows Singapore’s history. Woah! that got me! That historian in me was itching to go, and the parent in me, wanted the kids to have a glimpse of what history can teach us about the past. Plus, it’s RARE and NEVER-SEEN-BEFORE!

The exhibition displayed more than 100 artefacts and it was most interesting! We had the privilege of the curator leading all of us through the exhibition, so we could ask questions and hear some insider notes about certain items! Here are some highlights!

Sermon on the Mount: Published in S’pore (1842)

The missionaries were first to start the publishing industry in Singapore. It was a treat to see the early works of the Sermon on the Mount in English, Chinese and Malay! and in the photo above, it’s all three languages in one!

Raffles Letters

Letters from Sir Stamford Raffles to his Dad

We saw absolutely neat Raffles was! And his dad told him to write less often to save ink and candle!

Malay-Hokkien Dictionary

Malay-Hokkien Dictionary (1887)

To teach the Chinese how to speak Malay, this dictionaries showed the “Hokkien equivalent” of each Malay phrase. Look at the Chinese character below the Malay phrase, read it out in Hokkien. That would be the Malay pronounciation!


Malay translated Nursery Rhymes

Baa Baa Black Sheep – Can you sing along?

To immerse the locals into the British nursery rhymes, they came up with translated text like the above! It was hilarious as we tried to sing along!

And there were also Cookbooks for the British expats to use when they arrive in this small little island, to help them make sense of the local spices and food. For the Japanese occupation, there was a most interesting cartoon book which showed how life was like during the occupation. No Words but oh so good and funny too!

You can imagine we really enjoyed ourselves at this exhibition: From the Stacks: Highlights of the National Library. It’s running now at the National Library Level 10, till 28 Aug 2016. Admission is free. It’s never too early to show them bits of our past.




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