GET TO KNOW POPULAR MALAY PROVERBS THROUGH ADORABLE CAT ILLUSTRATIONS

Paw-verbs on the Lawn Malay Heritage Centre

“As happy as a clam”, “as loyal as a dog”, “as busy as a bee” – animals are popularly used in our everyday expressions. For the Malay community in particular, the cat or kucing is a well-loved animal that is often referenced in its proverbs – whether to signal the arrival of an authoritative person (‘Serta lalu kucing, tikus tidak berdecit/ When the cat is around, the mouse will not squeak’) or to describe someone who is pretending to be shy (‘Malu-malu Kucing/ Like a shy cat’).

The Malay Heritage Centre (MHC), in collaboration with Japanese artist Juno of mofu_sand, brings the kucing to life in its latest installation, Paw-verbs on the Lawn. Known for her vivid cat illustrations that depict her love for the animal, the Instagram-famous Juno has more than 20,000 followers on the platform (@mofu_sand).

Malay Heritage Centre MHC Paw-verbs on the Lawn

Paw-verbs on the Lawn marks the first-time collaboration between MHC and the artist, and is also the first time that Juno’s cat illustrations are on display in Southeast Asia. It will feature 30 of her cat illustrations as standees on the lawn of MHC, interspersed with a collection of 10 common Malay proverbs that spotlight how the cat is used metaphorically to convey different aspects of human behaviour, as well as to impart age-old lessons handed down from generation to generation. In these proverbs, the cat is portrayed multifacetedly – shy, elusive, intimidating, authoritative, restless, quick and even quarrelsome.

Paw-verbs on the Lawn pays tribute to the cat, its place in Malay literary culture and in the hearts of Singaporeans, and also welcomes visitors to the Centre to learn the meaning and significance behind these common Malay proverbs, and have the opportunity to snap Instagram-worthy photos that these illustrations are already known for.

The 10 proverbs featured are:

  1. Bagai kucing lepas senja (like a cat after dusk)
    Meaning: A description of someone who is difficult or hard to find.
  2. Ikan gantung, kucing tunggu (like dangling fish before a cat)
    Meaning: A state of annoyance caused by the inability to get what you want.
  3. Anak kucing menjadi harimau (the kitten has become a tiger)
    Meaning: Someone who gains power and status which elevates his or her standing in society.
  4. Duduk seperti kucing, melompat seperti harimau (crouches like a cat and leaps like a tiger)
    Meaning: A quiet person who is agile and quick-thinking.
  5. Serta lalu kucing, tikus tidak berdecit (when the cat is around, the mouse will not squeak)
    Meaning: With the arrival of someone who instils fear, those who fear the person will keep silent.
  6. Seperti anjing dan kucing (like a dog with a cat)
    Meaning: A description of two persons who are always quarrelling.
  7. Seperti kucing biang (like a cat in heat)
    Meaning: A feeling of restlessness which cannot be attributed to any cause or reason.
  8. Bagai mengail kucing hanyut (fishing for a drowning cat)
    Meaning: A wasted act or deed.
  9. Kucing bertanduk (a cat with horns)
    Meaning: A piece of advice to not expect the impossible.
  10. Malu-malu Kucing (like a shy cat)
    Meaning: A way of saying that a person is pretending to be shy.

Paw-verbs on the Lawn is open to the public at MHC’s Lawn from 10 March to 30 May 2021. In addition, members of the public can take part in related programmes and activities, including a performative storytelling session titled The Lure of the Feline by theatre actor, director and playwright Gene Sha Rudyn, which will explore the relationship Nusantara Malays have had with felines across the ages. Visitors can also prowl MHC’s grounds and galleries to ‘Find the Paw-Verb!’, which will be released weekly on MHC’s Instagram page (@malayheritage) from 16 March onwards, for a chance to win exclusive mofu_sand cat illustration button badges.

Admisstion to Malay Heritage Centre is free for Singapore Citizens and PRs. Oher visitors can get tickets online from Klook or KKday.





Programmes for Paw-verbs on the Lawn

Malay Heritage Centre Paw-verbs on the Lawn

• Performative Storytelling: The Lure of the Feline

Dates: 20 & 21 March 2021 (Sat & Sun), 22 & 23 May 2021 (Sat & Sun)
Time: 11am & 1pm (two shows per day)
Language: Bilingual (English & Malay)
Tickets: $10

More information will be up here closer to date.

Head on down to the Malay Heritage Centre to explore the relationship Nusantara Malays have had with felines across the ages. Go back to the legend of the founding of Singapura in the 14th century, all the way to the current “Islamic reawakening”, and perhaps better understand how the cat has become so endearingly embedded in the Malay language.

Join distinguished bilingual theatre actor, director and playwright Gene Sha Rudyn as he returns to his Nusantara roots, which are rich in oral traditions, for a special session to share stories of, about or having to do with Cats.

• Activity: Find the Paw-Verb!

Starts 16 March 2021, Tuesday onwards.

Participate in this fun activity with these five simple steps:

– Step 1: Check out Malay Heritage Centre’s weekly ‘Find the Paw-verb!’ post on its Instagram page (@malayheritage), which will reveal the silhouette cat sticker for that week.
– Step 2: Explore MHC’s grounds and permanent galleries to find the exact silhouette cat sticker on-site.
– Step 3: Take a selfie with the specific cat sticker and post your photo on Facebook or Instagram. Tag @malayheritage and #findpawverbs.
– Step 4: Show your selfie and social media post to our Visitor Services staff.
– Step 5: Redeem a token and have fun at the gumball capsule machine! Stand a chance to win random gifts, including mofu_sand cat illustration button badges.

Note: Visitors are welcome to take part in Find the Paw-verb! every week, do note that however there is a cap of two redemptions/tries per week (Tuesday – Sunday).

Photos credit: Malay Heritage Centre


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