The Merlion Story

BODY IMAGE: Hotel Jen Orchard Gateway Singapore : The Merlion Story
BODY IMAGE: Hotel Jen Orchard Gateway Singapore : The Merlion Story

The thing I love about my special Jen guests is their curiosity, so when one of them asked me recently why the mythical Merlion is Singapore’s national symbol I knew it was time to get digging up info.

Here’s what I found: The Merlion is a creature combining the head of a lion with the body of a fish. Officially, the Tourist Board created the Merlion logo in 1964, just after Singapore became independent of British rule, and it represents the city state’s past and future. The fish tail is an iconic symbol of Singapore’s rich fishing and seaport heritage, while the Lion’s head signifies courage and bravery facing new times.

But the image also harks back into ancient times, representing the legend of Malay Prince Sang Nila Utama, who landed in “Temasek,” an old fishing village meaning “Sea Town” in Old Javanese. Soon after his arrival, a large mythical creature that he thought was a lion confronted him, prompting him to rename the place "Singapura" or “Lion City.”

So there you have it. Ancient tales and modern history combine to create the Merlion, Singapore’s national symbol.

Want your own moment with the Merlion? Snap a selfie next to him at Merlion Park. An 8-foot statue stands overlooking Marina Bay, while a smaller statue, fondly known as the Merlion cub is also at the park.