One might come across various nations that have chosen an animal to represent their culture, origins, and an embodiment of who they are. For instance, America chose the Bald Eagle to express their freedom and strength; Russia chose the Bear and England, The Majestic Lion. The strangest one so far is the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as Nessie, chosen by Scotland to represent their mythical creature of The Loch Ness. The Loch Ness might be strange, but the most amazing and imaginative animal chosen to represent a country is The Merlion. Half lion, half fish. Singapore stands proud and tall as the grand statue of the Merlion represents it in the world. It is perhaps a representation of their creativity, but who knows? Singapore is so rich in culture and heritage, and there is always more to sew here. Let’s find out all about the great Merlion here in this article.
The Merlion’s Origin
It might seem confusing or completely irrelevant, but the Merlion is deeply connected with Singapore’s history.
According to the records, Singapore was founded by a Malay Prince. As soon as he stepped on the land, a lion caught his eye. He came, he saw, he established – A Sovereign Land.
Having its roots tied to the Sanskrit Language, Singapore was originally called Singhapura. Singha means lion, and Pura means the city. There! Mystery Solved. Singapore is appropriately called the City of The Lions.
Moreover, The lion’s head is a symbol of bravery and strength, and its chimeric aspect symbolizes the passion for leaping forward; and both these values are significantly incorporated by the residents.
The “Mer” part of the Merlion is a direct reference to the sea. Referring to the lower part of its body, it traces back to when Singapore was a humble seaport and a fishing village, also known as “Temasek,” or in Javanese, Sea Town.
Long story short, the Merlion represents the down to earth origins, but still have the ambition to be looking boldly into the future.
History of The Merlion
The Merlion, as it is, was created during the transitional state of Singapore, just when the British had left. The transition was all social, political, and cultural.
Singaporeans needed to find themselves. They needed to rediscover their national identity that would keep reminding them of who they were and who they aspire to be.
Originally designed in 1964 by Fraser Brunner, it wasn’t until 1965 that it was constructed when the country finally achieved independence. This means that The Merlion is basically older than “Singapore” itself.
It was officially introduced as the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board in 1964 and was trademarked in 1966. One can easily find it on the souvenirs and memorabilia approved by the Singapore Tourism Board.
The Merlion now also appears as the most famous representation of Mer-People and Mer-Animals that are used as national symbols, alongside the sculpture of The Little Mermaid on a search in Copenhagen, Denmark.
From the Sirens encountered in Greek Odyssey to DC’s Aquaman in Atlantis, Mermaids and Mer-Animals have always attracted human attention. But nothing like Merlion has ever existed, a unique combination of the sea element and the majestic and powerful Lion.
The global appeal of the Merlion
The Merlion is undoubtedly one of the most loved sights in the city of Singapore. In fact, people loved it so much that a couple of statues were commissioned for the Merlion lovers to enjoy an actual rendition of the animal. The statue, which is more popular, is eight point six meters high and weighs around seventy tons. The other statue weighs about three tons and has a height of two meters. Overall, there are seven statues of the Merlion in Singapore. The aforementioned are the most talked-about ones. The Sentosa Merlion is the tallest statue of all.
The Merlion has gained so much popularity across the globe that a vast country like Japan has also built a replica of it. Its beauty has not only made it one of the leading sites seeing spots among the city guides, but also in the official tourist tips by the city of Singapore and TripAdvisor.
The Giant Merlion’s teeth stand for the various ethnicities forming part of Singapore: Malay, Indian, Chinese, and Eurasian. This proves that The Merlion stands true to its identity as the symbol of strength, unity, and proud national integrity.
When you’re in Singapore, it would be hard not to spot The Merlion. But even after being so famous, it is worth taking the time out to visit and explore its different renditions. The Marvelous Symbol of The Nation’s Proud Heritage will make you drop your jaw and fill your heart with immense respect.