A Malay folktale: The Princess of Mount Ophir

It was said that a beautiful fairy princess lived at the top of Gunung Ledang. She had been raised by a group of beings that were half-man and half-beast. Because she was a fairy princess, she never grew old. Her beauty was enhanced by the breezes that blew atop the mountain.

Many sultans sought her hand in marriage. Yet perhaps the mountain sought to preserve her purity, for no messenger ever reached the top of Gunung Ledang. And so, the princess spent her days on the mountain, dancing and singing in the cool air.

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Then came the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah. He sent three of his best warriors to find the princess. It was believed that the journey was so tenuous that only one of them managed to make his way to the princess’ home. There, he put forth Sultan Mansur Shah’s proposal.

The princess replied that she would marry the sultan if he was able to provide her with three items: seven vats containing women’s tears, seven trays of mosquito hearts and seven drops of his son’s blood.

Upon his return to the palace, the warrior conveyed the princess’ message. The sultan was crushed when he heard it. As he sat in his royal chambers, he lamented, “I can provide seven vats of women’s tears and even seven trays of mosquito hearts. But to prick my son for even one drop of his blood is impossible for me to bear!”

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And so, for many more years, the princess remained atop Gunung Ledang. It was believed that she eventually did find her true love, a fierce warrior named Nakhoda Ragam.

She moved down from the mountain to live with him. Her bliss was shattered one day when they were spending time together. He had tickled her so much that she accidentally stabbed him with a needle as she laughed uncontrollably.

After the incident, the princess returned to the mountain and never laid eyes on another man again. Soon after, Nakhoda Ragam’s boat was destroyed in a storm and the debris became the six islands off Malacca.

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A myth on how the Chinese language came about

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Legend has it that the written language was created by Cangjie, a subordinate of the Yellow Emperor. Cangjie was in charge of managing livestock and food supplies. As the animals and grain kept increasing, it became impossible to keep count. Hence, he made knots in different coloured strings to represent the numbers of different animals and food.

Seeing Cangjie’s ability, the Yellow Emperor put him in charge of many more things. Cangjie racked his brains as strings were not sufficient now.

One day, Cangjie went hunting. He observed the animal footprints on the ground and got a revelation: “If one type of footprint represents one kind of animal, why don’t I just indicate the different items with symbols?”

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Hence, Cangjie began to come up with different symbols based on the shapes of animal footprints and the natural environment. Later, others also adopted these symbols and started to communicate with them.

However, of course, this remains just a myth as the development of a written language is usually influenced by many social factors over a long period of time.

The people behind Asiapac: Our comic artists

As we prepare for our 35th anniversary exhibition opening this Saturday (we’re making sure everything runs smoothly for you!), let’s reminisce about some of our long-time comic artists who have played a huge role in our company, and one Asiapac publication that they have worked on each.

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Chan Kok Sing

Born in 1971 in Malaysia, Chan Kok Sing did not have an easy childhood. However, he knew he loved drawing and did not give it up, eventually graduating from the Kuala Lumpur College of Art in 1995 and securing a collaboration with Asiapac Books the year after.

The Eight Immortals is a Classic Taoist folk legend about eight ordinary people who attained immortality through selfless actions and good deeds. Together, they are celebrated because they signify happiness. Because of this tradition, the number eight has been considered by the Chinese to represent luck or good fortune.

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Huang Qingrong

Also born in Malaysia, Huang Qingrong joined Asiapac Books in 1998 on what was then the six-volume publication Water MarginWater Margin depicts 108 victims of oppression during the Northern Song Dynasty who fought against corruption and treachery. This Chinese classic is based on true events and historical characters, which makes the story even more relevant to the everyday reader.

Huang Qingrong’s drawings are simple, comical and easy on the eye, making him skilled at adapting complex literary elements to suit younger readers.

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Jeffrey Seow

Born in 1954, Jeffrey Seow is a Singaporean self-taught artist. Before becoming a comic artist, he worked as an illustrator in the local TV station, and also in the advertising industry. His experience in various creative roles has made him a very versatile artist.

The Analects of Confucius is a record of the life and teachings of Confucius, and represents the most important work stemming from Confucianism. It covers a wide range of topics, including politics, society, morality and education. Asiapac Books’ comic version accompanied by Jeffrey Seow’s humorous cartoons is a light-hearted read that will appeal to both young and old.

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Fu Chunjiang

Fu Chunjiang was born in 1974 in China. He is particularly skilled in the traditional style of illustration commonly seen in Chinese classical adaptations.

Origins of Chinese Festivals tells of the different stories behind each traditional Chinese festival that we still celebrate today. This helps us better appreciate our traditions and also understand the reasons behind why we continue participating in these festivities now.

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Come by our 35th anniversary comics exhibition at the Level 8 Promenade of the National Library Building from now until 9 December 2018 to feast your eyes on more beautiful artwork! What’s more, sign up for our free events for the whole family at https://www.eventbrite.sg/o/asiapac-books-14968450800 today!

Why were clogs invented?

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Clogs, a.k.a. cha kiak in Hokkien, are a type of shoe that was popular in Singapore in the mid-1900s. They are made using wood for the soles, and rubber for the straps.

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It is said that a long time ago, there was a man who felled trees for a living. As he wore shoes made of cloth, he often injured his feet while walking in the forest. One day, he stepped on a stick and tore his shoes. He could not wear them anymore.

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Being forced to think of a solution, he noticed that there were pieces of wood lying around. So, he tied two wooden pieces to his feet with rope and started walking in them. He found that the wood not only protected his feet from sharp sticks and stones, but also prevented him from slipping on wet ground.

From then on, he chopped trees for wood to make soles for clogs.

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Clogs were subsequently used in wet kitchens and markets, to keep feet dry when walking on wet floors. These were some important traits that made them the perfect shoe:

  • Comfortable
  • Imitate a flat surface
  • Thick soles create distance between feet and wet, dirty ground
  • Wooden soles create friction to prevent slipping
  • No need to differentiate between left and right: both sides are the same

 

 

Take note! Red clogs with curvy edges are for women. Green ones with straight sides are for men. It may take some practice to walk in them, but it’s just a matter of getting used to.

Today, with the wide array of footwear available, clogs have become redundant. However, you can still get a pair at a souvenir shop as a keepsake!

Read more about the clog makers and other super interesting trades in our latest graphic novel, Once Upon A Singapore… Traders. You can preorder the book here. We’ll also be having our book launch at The Arts House on 10 November 20182pm-3pm, so make sure you don’t miss it! Register here for free!