Elephants No. 20, 21 and 22

Three very different elephants from a city of many sides: we spent four days in Singapore last week, only slightly marred by the return of the dreaded haze, and a thorough bed bug cleaning operation after a nasty encounter with the fuckers on the ferry back from Koh Tao. Here is my pick of the city’s elephants:

Elephant No. 20


This is a particularly interesting elephant for me, because it is the twin of a different elephant (Elephant No. 14) I found in Jakarta! This one is located outside the Old Parliament House, Singapore’s oldest surviving government building. Both are presents from the King of Siam (modern Thailand) in 1871. I’d love to know more about this king and why he decided to distribute these elephants around south east Asia – and I wonder if there are further ones to be found in other cities? 

Elephant No. 21


An elephant statue in the lovely and very colourfully decorated gardens around Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore’s showcase modern constructions, where you can (and we did) sip a cocktail with stunning views over the city.

Elephant No. 22

This is from the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. It is dated roughly to 200BC-200AD, and comes from the Dong Son culture in  Vietnam. It’s made of bronze, and while animal vessels from this period are apparently common, elephant-shaped ones are not: I think it’s beautiful. The museum also had information on elephant symbolism from this period: elephants were seen as a symbol of warfare, as epitomised by the heroic Trung sisters who rode them into battle against the Chinese in a Vietnamese rebellion in the early 1st century AD.


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