The Merlion is Singapore’s mascot. A mythological creature with a lion’s head and a fish’s body is pictured. In sports teams, advertising, branding, tourism, and as a national personification, it is extensively used to represent Singapore and Singaporeans as a whole because of its prominent symbolic nature.

Singapore’s tourism board used Merlion as its logo for the first time. Its name is a combination of “mer,” which means sea, and “lion,” which means lion. Originally known as “Temasek,” the Javanese word for “sea town,” the fish body symbolises Singapore’s history as a fishing village. Singapore’s original name, Singapura, translates as “lion city” or “kota singa,” and the lion’s head is a representation of that.

From March 26, 1964 to March 27, 1997, Alec Fraser-Brunner, member of the Souvenir Committee and curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium, created a symbol for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) emblem that was trademarked on July 20, 1966, and was in use until March 27, 1997. Despite the STB’s 1997 logo change, the Merlion symbol is still protected under the STB Act. Before it can be used, it must be approved by the STB first. STB-approved souvenirs typically feature the Merlion.

The original Merlion statue, stands 8.6 meters high at Merlion Park. “Merlion cub” was the name given to the smaller, two-meter-tall sculpture that stood behind the big Merlion monument and weighed 3 tonnes. Part of its design included Chinese porcelain plates and bowls. Tourism Court (next to Grange Road) has a three-meter-tall glazed polymarble statue that was constructed in 1995. The three-meter-high polymarble statue was erected at Faber Point on Mount Faber. The Ang Mo Kio Residential Committee built two Merlion monuments in 1999. A group of people sitting near the entrance to the Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 car park. Sentosa Merlion Shop and the 37-meter-tall giant replica of a previously permitted monument at Sentosa with a viewing gallery on its head and a viewing deck in the Mouth Gallery Viewing Deck were closed on October 20th, 2019.

In addition to Singapore, the statues can be found in Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand, to name a few.

The installation of the Merlion statue was presided over by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on September 15, 1972. At the mouth of the Singapore River, in Merlion Park, stood the original statue of the Merlion.

The University of Singapore (now known as the National University of Singapore) vice-chancellor Kwan Sai Kheong came up with the idea for the sculpture and had it built by Singapore sculptor Lim Nang Seng from November 1971 to August 1972. In height, it stands at 8.6 meters, and it weighs 70 tonnes. The whole thing came to roughly $165,000 in total.

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