The Kampong Gelam Mural

The Kampong Gelam Mural, located at 92 Arab Street, depicts the history and culture of Kampong Gelam. It was painted in a span of 25 days in Aug 2023.

On one wall, it depicts Kg Gelam’s early days by the seafront. Then, the Sultan Mosque had a Nusantara-style pyramidal-roof. The Istana was the Sultan’s palace. Traders from the Malay Archipelago, Middle East, China and India set up businesses in the area. The Mural’s lower parts showcase some of these trades such as textile and diamond trading, book printing, tombstone engraving, iron smithing. Kg Gelam was also once a Haj hub where pilgrims from neighboring countries transit before taking the steamships to Mecca. Pondok Jawa served as one of the boarding houses for the pilgrims, as well as a centre of entertainment, Wayang Kulit performances and food fairs. At the bottom left corner is the depiction of the iconic Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion). Next to the doors are 2 maps – an old map and a 2023 map, painted side by side, giving an interesting perspective. 

The taller wall gives a peek of the inside of a typical house in the 80s before the place’s redevelopment. The ambeng (low wooden platform) is the centre of activities where families would gather to eat, watch TV, do chores and rest. The giant fabrics represent where their ancestors came from, such as Java, Kalimantan, Sulewasi… Lastly, the window with the two kids playing with a paper aeroplane symbolises the energy and aspirations of the new generations, topping a playful and whimsical touch.

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