This year marks 200 years of the Tamils in Singapore. However, Tamil connections with Singapore can be traced as far back as the 11th–13th centuries CE based on recent interpretations of the Singapore Stone. From the Coromandel Coast to the Straits: Revisiting Our Tamil Heritage presents a compendium of narratives that recount the experiences of Tamil diasporas in Southeast Asia and Singapore from pre-modern to contemporary times.
Among the South Asian languages, Tamil is perhaps the only example of a very ancient language that still survives as the mother tongue of millions of speakers in south India, Sri Lanka, and of diasporas in many parts of the world. Singapore’s Tamil community is distinct as they have adapted and integrated with local cultures. Primarily born out of the colonial enterprise, the Tamil community is today a vibrant part of Singapore’s multi-ethnic fabric.
This exhibition is presented in two parts: part one enumerates the odyssey of pre-modern Tamil diasporas in Southeast Asia while part two offers glimpses of lesser known 19th century pioneers and some of the oldest Tamil families in Singapore. Bringing together collections from around the world and treasured possessions from the community, this exhibition seeks to present an uninterrupted history of Tamils in Singapore. It also includes digital showcases featuring holograms of artefacts in the collections of other museums and institutions