Story about the mysterious animal that created the name of Singapore

Asia Travel Jun 13, 2019

In Sanskrit, the name of the island nation in Southeast Asia means “Lion City.”

Very little is known about Singapore’s history in ancient times. In the record of a Chinese traveler in the 3rd century, this person mentioned the Pu Luo Chang land, read from Pulau Ujong, which means “Endless Island” in Malay. This name is said to refer to Singapore’s position on the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia.


Lion Merlion – famous symbol of Singapore

Most Singaporeans affirmed that the island nation was originally called Temasek. According to the school history articles, this ancient name dates back to the 13th century, translating as Sea Town.

Today, Temasek is still used to name many organizations. The most famous is investment company Temasek Holdings. It also appears in the names of some schools or national titles such as Bintang Temasek (Star of Temasek) or Darjah Utama Temasek (Order of Temasek).

In the 14th century, Temasek was changed to Singapura, also the current Malaysian name for Singapore. Singapura stands for “Lion City”. This word comes from Sanskrit, “Simha” is a lion, and “Pura” is a city. The origin of the name is considered one of the famous legends of the country.

According to the Malay Annals, one day, when Prince Sang Nila Utama of Palembang was out hunting, a mysterious animal was seen from afar. Given that it was a sign of luck, he formed a city where the animal appeared. At that time, it was believed that the other prince saw the lion, so it was named Singapura.

However, in fact, it is very difficult to have a lion here because it is not a favorable environment for them. Many suggested that Sang Nila Utama had seen a tiger, when a ferocious animal wandered through areas in Singapore, threatening people’s lives. The tiger was finally shot dead in 1930.

The name Singapore was born with the arrival of the British in 1819. It is applied nationwide and worldwide and continues to be used today.

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