By Alasdair Chi
The Singapore Stone, as a stele or shards, remains the longest-enduring extant proof of Singapore’s antiquity. Erected by the mouth of the Singapore River by the 13th century, and possibly even earlier, its 52 lines may have recorded the dealings of some great empire or monarch, or perhaps a more prosaic statement of authority.
Entering legend in the form of a Herculean labour by a local hero named Badang, who supposedly cast it a great distance in a test of strength, this stone endured the collapse of the emporium which settled the shores of the river 700 years ago, standing still as the centuries passed by.
Then in the early nineteenth century came the coloniser Sir Stamford Raffles, whose imposition of British rule led to its rediscovery and, shortly afterwards, its demolition, leaving us with fragments too short to translate now serving as a mute reminder of the illustrious past of this island.
Image: The Singapore Stone at the National Museum of Singapore (photograph by Bryn Pinzgauer, via Wikimedia Commons)