Tucked away on the fourth floor of the Chin Kang Huay Kuan or Chin Kang Clan Association building at Bukit Pasoh, the Chin Kang Gallery provides a look back at the history of those who arrived from the Jinjiang and the clan that was set up to care for them.
The small but modern-looking Chin Kang Gallery occupies one room and is divided into eight different sections.
Together they tell the story of the migrants who arrived in Singapore from Jinjiang in China in the 1800s and the history of the Chin Kang Huay Kuan.
Life of a Coolie
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One of the most interesting parts of the gallery is the first one that sheds light on the life of a coolie in Singapore’s early days. Many of those who arrived from Jinjian ended up working as coolies or a manual labourers.
Did you know there were different types of coolies? These included “sea coolies” who would work on cargo ships out at sea and “land coolies” that worked on land.
The one that we are probably most familiar with are the “twakow coolies”, hard at work unloading bumboats along the Singapore River to fill up the godowns owned by merchants.
On display are different artefacts such as hats that coolies would have worn to shield themselves from the rain and sun.
Tools of the trade on display include shovel pipes, used to check on the goods that were being delivered.
There is also a section on the living arrangements for the coolies.
An interesting exhibit is a wooden box that each coolie living in a “coolie house” would have had to store his items.
Role of Chin Kang Huay Kuan
Around the rest of the gallery, there are exhibits about the Chin Kang Huay Kuan during the Japanese Occupation.
There are also displays on the clan’s efforts to promote education with the establishment of the School of Chin Kang.
Visiting the Chin Kang Gallery at Bukit Pasoh
A visit to the Chin Kang Gallery will appeal to those who are interested in getting a better understanding about the role that coolies played in Singapore’s early days, as well as how clans looked out for their members and their evolving role.
The Chin Kang Gallery is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 10 am to 3 pm. Admission is free.
Where: 29 Bukit Pasoh Road, #04-01, Singapore 089843