Item: 1980 Arts of Singapore Silver Proof Ingots
Issue Date: 15 March 1980
Dimensions: 50 x 24 x 2.5 mm
Weight: 1 Troy Oz each (5 pieces = 5 troy oz)
Composition: 925 Fine Stirling Silver
On The Designs
The principal face of the ingots depicts the logo of the Singapore Cultural Foundation and the year of mintage.
The reverse faces of the ingots depict the five art-forms practised in any gracious society – Dance, Drama, Literature, Music and Visual Arts.
The Board of Trustees and the Management Committee wanted a designer who could give each of those forms a strong, graphic representation suitable for three-dimensional reproduction. At the same time he was to communicate a vivid sense of their vitality an characteristic evocative power. To complete the assignment, the designs would have to impart a distinctive Singaporean flavour.
The designer chosen for the job gives a simple but illuminating account of the “clues” he has left in each of the motifs he designed.
To the designer, the ballet seems to offer possibilities for combining elements of Malay, Indian and Chinese dance in a harmonious whole. To give the design a Singapore flavour, an orchid is placed on the dancer’s hair.
The mask of a Chinese opera character occupies a great part of the design. Masks of Chinese opera characters are known for their beauty in shapes and power. Two hands of an Indian dancer appear below the mask. Graceful hands of Indian dancers often express meanings. Here the left hand depicts “beauty” and the right “word” or “man”. A Malay keris is at the lower end. Keris is a typical weapon of Malay warriors on important ceremonies and on stage. It depicts “bravery”, “power” and “righteousness”.
The book, pen and a bottle of ink represent all literary works. Four lines and round dots are designed on the left of the book to depict contributions of each race in Singapore towards Literature.
Here, the designer selected representative ethnic musical instruments – the Chinese pipa; the Indian sitar; the Malay bronze gong; the western guitar, piano and trumpet, and wove them into an evocative pattern of musical notes.
On Visual Arts
To the designer, this was the easiest to depict. The palette represents painting. The hand gripping the brush guides the artistic eye in the depiction of proportion. The knife stands for sculpture. The lines and dots motif which appears throughout the five designs represent all the personalities, regardless of race, involved in the production of art.
Personal message from Ong Teng Cheong regarding this coin set
“The Arts of Singapore Silver Commemorative Ingot Sets are being issued at a time when interest in the arts has never been higher. The five specially commissioned designs depicts, appropriately, the five arts – Dance, Drama, Literature, Music and Visual Arts. This silver ingot issues is of more than symbolic significance. Each of these arts will receive the greatest possible assistance and support from the Singapore Cultural Foundation for their development and growth. A relatively small number of sets, only 4,000 of the ingots is being issued. Singapore’s avid art collectors no doubt will want a set for their collection. This newest project of the Funds Appear Committee certainly deserves to succeed.”
— Ong Teng Cheong (Acting Minister for Culture & Chairman, Board of Trustees, Singapore Cultural Foundation).