‘Samsui’ Woman

May 28, 2010

When I was travelling in Singapore, I came across this sculpture:

This was outside a restaurant in China Town.  I was absolutely intrigued by it.

So, when I visited the Asian Civilisations Museum, I was keen to found out more.  Apparently, it seemed as though it was a commemoration of Samsui women: these were Chinese immigrants who came to Singapore between the 1920s and the 1940s in search of construction and industrial jobs around the Singapore River.  This was significant, as traditionally, women did not get involved in these occupations.

Before arriving in Singapore, most Samsui women took vows never to marry. They lived in cramped conditions with other Samsui women, helping out each other and forming tightly united cliques. Usually wore blue garments and iconic red headdress.

Quite a sorority!  The testimonies of these women were quite inspirational, and I admire the courage they had to defy cultural conventions, in order to work.