Hour At The Museum

Wayang Kulit Gunungan (circa 2000s)
Wayang Kulit Gunungan (circa 2000s)PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MALAY HERITAGE CENTRE

Pusaka: Heritage And Culture Of The Javanese In Singapore explores the social and cultural history of the Javanese community here. The exhibition is a joint effort between the Malay Heritage Centre and the Javanese Association of Singapore.

Wayang Kulit Gunungan (circa 2000s)
On loan from the Javanese Association of Singapore, leather and horn

This gunungan, or mountain- shaped shadow puppet, references Mount Meru, a sacred mountain in ancient Hindu tradition. When used in wayang kulit or shadow puppetry, it marks the beginning and end of a performance, scene changes or scenes with strong emotions.

Keris (circa 2000s)
On loan from Madam Noorhidayawati Awang, meteorite alloy with wooden hilt, gilded gold and silver

A keris is believed to be sentient, possessing its own life force. It can also be used as a spiritual guide to help achieve one's ambitions. This keris is commissioned as a pusaka (heirloom or legacy), believed to bestow supernatural powers on the owner and keep him from danger.

Old Javanese Book In Hanacaraka Script (1925)
On loan from Mr Samuie Tarjalia, printed paper

This book is written in Hanacaraka script, an old Javanese script that was used mainly by writers from palace nobility in Surakarta and Yogyakarta. These writers used to write babad (historical accounts), serat (stories), kakawin (ancient verses) and primbon (divination guides).

Traditional Javanese Wedding Outfits (circa 1950s)
On loan from Madam Zaiton Ali, beaded velvet jacket

The traditional Javanese wedding outfits consist of embroidered velvet jackets, worn by both bride (pictured) and groom, and batik cloths with patterns of sidoasih (continuous love) and sidomukti (continuous happiness). These designs were symbols of a prosperous life and marital bliss.

Conde (late 20th century)
On loan from Madam Mellina Erda Nanwi, real human hair

This conde, a hairpiece with an attached hairpin, belonged to Madam Mellina's mother.

Javanese women traditionally wore the conde for special occasions such as weddings.

Uleg Set (late 20th century)
On loan from Madam Mellina Erda Nanwi, stone

This mortar and pestle set was used to make different types of Javanese sambal.

Bara Kemenyan (circa 1980s)
On loan from Mr Suryakenchana Omar, brass

A bara kemenyan, or incense burner, was something Javanese families would use to ritually cleanse their homes. They would use fragrant woods such as sandalwood and aromatic plant resins such as frankincense and myrrh.

WHERE: Malay Heritage Centre, 85 Sultan Gate, Galleries 1 & 2

MRT: Bugis

WHEN: Till Aug 28, 10am to 6pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday


INFO: malayheritage.org.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Hour At The Museum'. Print Edition | Subscribe