Sunday, August 3, 2014

Singapore 16.10.2013 - Vanishing Trades – Definitives

SingPost released a new collection of stamps on 16.10.2013, to commemorate vanishing trades, which were brought to local shores decades ago by immigrants from Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka. Many of these trades that were once a familiar sight are fast disappearing, with Singapore's development as an urban metropolis.
The trades featured on these 10 stamps on the two first day covers are about :-

Dairy men (1st Local) migrated from Tamil Nadu in South India and Uttar Pradesh in North India to Malaya at the beginning of the 20th century. They catered mainly to the growing Indian community around Serangoon Road, and some of them were involved in the cattle trade in the Serangoon area. As part of the delivery routine, they would bring along their goats or cows and travel on foot from house to house offering truly fresh milk. Some of them would also deliver cans of milk by bicycle.

Beaded slippers makers (2nd Local) were traditionally Peranakan women who had to learn bead work prior to marriage as part of a Peranakan custom. Using beads, these makers had to stitch patterns onto a piece of needlepoint fabric stretched upon a wooden frame. Once the beading work had been completed, the beaded cloth would be sent to the cobbler to be made into slippers.

Kachang puteh sellers (5c) were primarily Indians selling nuts, beans or peas (collectively known as "kachang" in Malay) that were either steamed, fried, roasted or dipped in sugar. The early kachang puteh sellers were roving vendors who plied their goods which were usually displayed on a rack or tray.

Lantern makers (20c) were once popular trade during the early days of Singapore. The lantern makers painted over oiled paper stretched over interwoven ribs of delicate bamboo. The painted lanterns often depict famous figures from legend and/or Chinese characters for good luck and longevity.

Songkok makers (30c) were predominantly from Sumatra or of Sumatran descent. They catered to the Malay/Muslim communities in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, who often wore this traditional head gear when attending prayers at the mosque, other religious events, as well as festive celebrations such as Hari Raya Haji and Puasa.

Goldsmiths (45c) arrived in Singapore from Sri Lanka in the late 19th century and from South India and Gujarat in the mid-20th century. They would sit on floor mats or work over small benches while hand crafting pieces of jewellery. Their tools of the trade include screws, files, hammers, acid, sandpaper, water and a lamp. In addition to these tools, goldsmiths must also be equipped with patience, creativity and skilful fingures.

Cobblers (50c) offer shoe-repair services such as the replacement of worn out soles and heels as well as the polishing of shoes. During the early days, the trade was dominated by Chinese males and many cobblers could be found along "five-foot-ways", at the corners of pavements along busy roads, and on sidewalks within the vicinity of bus-stops.

Knife sharpeners (55c) were predominantly Cantonese Chinese or Malay, and many of them could be found along five-foot-ways in Singapore or travelled from one housing estate to another with their tools of trade. The tools of trade for a knife sharpener would typically include a pail of water, a grindstone and sheets of sandpaper.

Ice-ball sellers (65c) were primarily Indian vendors who sold drinks and ice-balls at the same time. Ice-ball sellers typically operate pushcarts laden with bottles of soft drinks, ingredients for ice-balls as well as a wooden ice-shaver. The ice-balls could either be drenched in colourful syrup and/or milk, and sometimes include fillings such as cooked red beans or "attap-chees" (mangrove palm seeds cooked in sugar).

Parrot astrologers (80c) arrived in Singapore during the late 19th century from India. They often used parakeets to pick up tarot cards so that they could interpret the cards to foretell a person's future. The tools of their trade would include a small table or rug, a set of 27 fortune cards, astrology charts, a notebook and a parakeet.

Thank you Shashi.

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