Sunday, March 16, 2014

Singapore: Faces of the Asian Civilizations Museum

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The Asian Civilizations Museum is considered the jewel in the crown of Singapore's museums, and it has a good collection of artifacts from Malaysian, Indonesian and Chinese cultures, with considerably smaller collections of Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese historical stuff. Japan and Korea are not represented at all.

I'm not going to bother with detailing the provenance or character of the pictures below, mostly because I wasn't up to recording them, but also because I just want to give a feel for the place, even though what follows is quite representative--of anything with a face, at least.

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I have to say the collection is well-organized, even if the museum itself is a maze which requires you to backtrack through everything you've seen to get to the exit. Some of the oldest items are from 5th century China, Champas era Vietnam and Indonesia during the Hindu and/or Buddhist ascendancy.

Mind you, I didn't get to the "Faces" theme entirely on my own. At several points, there are stations (mainly for school groups, I imagine) where you can stamp, emboss or otherwise decorate a blank face template that has a plastic handle--think of a fan--in the style of the exhibit it is adjacent to. I picked one up as a souvenir, natch. If "Faces" of the museum is a good theme, the first shot below is surely a winner:

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A couple of the more whimsical faces you could find here:

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I don't want the theme to limit me, so here are two particular artifacts I thought were really cool. First is a "tea leaf crusher" and second is a hand-warmer--you put hot embers in the pan, and hold on as the heat is conducted along the pole. Both of these were of seventh century (I think) Chinese origin:

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To get to the Asian Civilizations Museum, you come out of Raffles Place subway station and make your way across the bridge to your right. The museum is straight ahead. Adnission is a bit steep in my opinion at S$8.00.

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