Widely credited as the Founder of Singapore, Raffles’ image has been undergoing some revisions of late. The Singapore Bicentennial provides an occasion to open up lively discussions about colonialism and post-colonial identity. The year 1819 marked the arrival of Raffles, setting in motion a complete transformation of Singapore’s direction for the next 200 years. Singapore today bears much of the imprint of Raffles’ legacy but is increasingly rediscovering its deeper roots. A plethora of evidence shows the rich history of Singapore prior to Raffles’ arrival. Stretching back centuries, even to the time of Temasek, Singapore has long been a locus of vibrant settlement with lively commercial activities.
The limited-edition scarves collection specially designed to mark Singapore’s Bicentennial, capture significant vignettes of the pre- and post- Raffles periods. The pre-1819 scarf features Sang Nila Utama, multi-ethnic waterside settlements, ships of many nations, and silhouette of traders with different costumes from various exotic origins. In the post-1819 scarf the focus shifts to English gentry, equestrian scenes, carriages, landmark buildings, and the new, rationalised city plan: the Jackson Plan. Though the characters change, the setting retains its characteristic tropical flavour, with lush foliage.