‘From Chettiars to Financiers’ – Singapore - Atlas Obscura

‘From Chettiars to Financiers’

A unique, time-transcending work of art depicting the progress of trade in Singapore. 


The embankments of the Singapore River are known for their numerous monuments and public sculptures, most notably that of the boys leaping into the water. However, the piece titled “From Chettiars to Financiers” is largely overlooked, but provides a unique insight into Singapore’s progress in commerce.

Created by Taiwanese artist Chern Lian Shan in 2002, the sculpture represents the financial institutions in the area. While the chettiar—a moneylending merchant from South India—attends to his business at a low desk placed on a woven mat, the pigtailed Chinese clerk is doing math using a suanpan abacus. Intriguingly, beside them stands a businesswoman in a distinctly modern suit.

The sculpture, transcending time, tells the story of how trade in Singapore has changed over the years.

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March 24, 2023

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