A mixture of bravery and agility has come to represent everything about Singapore. The city’s symbol, the Merlion, highlights this powerful combination. The Merlion has a lion’s head and a fish’s body, often resting on the crests of waves. Everyone at MANN+HUMMEL Singapore likes to think that we, too, reflect the city’s culture by being an innovative, cutting edge, and flexible organisation. It was an easy choice for us to send a Merlion to the Innovation Centre in Ludwigsburg. There, items representing MANN+HUMMEL’s locations around the world are being exhibited and then put into a time capsule. Why? This year is MANN+HUMMEL’s 75th Anniversary year and on top of that, MANN+HUMMEL Singapore is celebrating its 20 year Anniversary, too!
How Singapore got its name
In ancient times, my home city, Singapore, was a fishing village known as Temasek – which is a Javanese word for “sea town”. Until its destruction in the 4th Century, the village was a centre of trade, much like modern-day Singapore is today. In the 11th Century, Prince Sang Nila Utama, the Prince of Palembang in South Sumatra, rediscovered the island on a hunting trip. While carefully stalking some prey through the jungle, the Prince saw a mysterious, mythical beast. The Malay Annals, which tells the story of the Malay Empire, describes this important meeting: “And they all beheld a strange animal. It seemed to move with great speed. It had a red body and a black head, its breast was white, it was strong and active in build, and in size it was bigger than a he goat.” The Prince later found out he has seen a lion and so decided to call the island Singapura. The name comes from the Sanskrit words singa (lion) and pura (city) – and so the lion city was born.
The Merlion represents the past and the future
As I mentioned, the Merlion is a hybrid of a lion and a fish. Both creatures represent parts of Singapore’s history as an ancient fishing village and as the location of Prince Sang Nila Utama’s encounter with a lion. However, it not only represents the past but is also part of today’s Singapore.
The most famous Merlion statue in Singapore is probably the one located at Merlion Park. At 8-metres-tall, it overlooks the bay and welcomes visitors to Singapore whilst spouting a fountain of water from its mouth. However, the tallest Merlion is by far the one on Sentosa Island; it is over 38-metres-high! You can even visit the interior and get a great selfie of youself and the Singapore skyline from inside the lion’s mouth. There are a few more Merlion statues dotted around the city. Next time you are visiting Singapore, don’t be surprised if you turn the corner and find a lion with a fish’s body staring back. Some Merlions can be as tall as buildings – but the one we’ve sent to Germany is not so big. It carries our best wishes to our colleagues in Ludwigsburg and we hope it arrives safely in Germany.