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Culture Scope: The Merlion


The Merlion is the national personification of Singapore, a well known figure featured in many of their products and displayed as a statue in several key locations throughout the country.

The story goes that there was once a Malay prince, Sri Tri Buana “Lord of the Three Worlds”, who left his kingdom to seek his own fortune. He chanced upon island he thought to be a large blanket spread across the ocean and caught a glimpse of the elusive creature, part lion, part fish. Impressed by its ferocity and beauty, he was the one who named the city he established in the nearby island as the “Lion City” upon founding it.


True to its name, the merlion is a lion head attached to a fish body. This peculiar amalgamation was born from two facts about Singapore: The fish part representing its origins as a fish village, and the lion head representing its original name, “Singapura” or “Lion City”.

It was originally designed by Alec Fraser-Brunner, a member of the Souvenir Committee for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). The symbol has been trademarked since 1966 and has been used time and time again as the official logo for any souvenirs and items that originated from this island state of Malaysia. A prominent symbol of the culture and the people as a whole, multiple Statues of the fictional creature were erected in many different places, garnering attention from tourists who visit.

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