On show: Culture of local Javanese community

Malay Heritage Centre curator Suhaili Osman with hand-embroided kebaya blouses, which are among the more than 35 items on display.
Malay Heritage Centre curator Suhaili Osman with hand-embroided kebaya blouses, which are among the more than 35 items on display.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

The rich history and culture of Singapore's Javanese community will be on display at a new exhibition titled Pusaka: Heritage and Culture of the Javanese in Singapore.

Jointly presented by the Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) and the Javanese Association of Singapore, Pusaka, which means inheritance, showcases an exquisite collection of heirlooms and everyday objects contributed by Singaporeans of Javanese descent.

The collection of more than 35 items, spanning from 1925 to 2000, ranges from a gunungan puppet, a mountain-shaped puppet used in wayang kulit (shadow puppetry), to slippers made from discarded rubber tyres by a former resident of Kampong Java Road, an area occupied by early Javanese settlers.

"These early settlements show that we are here to stay. We are here to contribute to the country," said Mr Haider Sahle, 36, vice-president of the Javanese Association of Singapore (Exhibition).

The exhibition, to be held at the MHC, also focuses on unique Javanese culture and traditions that have shaped Malay heritage.

"This exhibition is an excellent example of how we live and breathe heritage in our daily lives, sometimes without realising it," said Miss Suhaili Osman, 37, a curator at the MHC.

As the third instalment of the centre's annual Se-Nusantara (Of the Same Archipelago) series of exhibitions that highlight the sub-ethnic groups within the Malay community, Pusaka runs from tomorrow to Aug 28.

Various free programmes will be launched with the exhibition, such as craft activities for children, cultural talks and Dalang Cilik - a showcase of shadow puppetry that features Singaporean puppets commissioned for local folk tales.

The public can visit www.malayheritage.org.sg or call 6391-0450 to register for the programmes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline 'On show: Culture of local Javanese community'. Print Edition | Subscribe