Symbols and Scripts: The Language of Craft
date07 Dec 2017 - 30 Jun 2018
priceFree admission to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents

 Symbols and Scripts: The Language of Craft

Craft objects are a reflection of the society that produced it. Traditionally made as objects of everyday utility, Indian art and craft objects display the influence of historical, geographical and socio-cultural factors. The range of Indian crafting traditions is astounding due to the prolific plurality of the sub-continent’s regional and sub-regional communities.

The earliest appearance of scripts and symbols in hand-crafted objects occurred around 5000 years ago in the Indian Subcontinent. Motifs, patterns and symbols embody the culture of the people, acting as a repository of tradition and practice. Composition, form, and aesthetics are combined to express more than sheer beauty by craft artisans, bestowing the objects with deeper meaning and cultural significance. Such craft objects and textiles also attained symbolic value, and were made for use during festive occasions and life cycle rituals.


Language remains an important marker of internal diversity among Indian communities. Hand crafted objects and textiles were designed with the influence of such scripting traditions, pointing to regional influences on craft.

The Indian Heritage Centre's Symbols and Scripts - The Language of Craft exhibition seeks to showcase the rich and diverse material heritage of the manifold Indian communities. It emphasises the use of symbolism and scripts in craft objects and interprets such symbols and scripts both in the Indian tradition as well as in the Singapore Indian context.

Ode to the Unknown : A Commissioned Art Installation by Madhvi Subrahmanian

Madhvi Subrahmanian's work entitled Ode to the Unknown presents a collection of rubber cups created at her studio at Guan Huat Dragon Kiln, one of the locations for the production of the ceramic latex collection cups in the 1900s. The installation comprises multiple cups made with a Singapore clay slip and glazed in bright colours representing the vibrant diversity of Indian culture. Each cup is decorated with spiral motifs inspired by the half spiral system of tapping rubber and is a metaphorical expression of the circle of life.

Ode to the Unknown draws inspiration from the cross-cultural narrative of Chinese and Indian labour in the rubber collection industry whereby the former brought ceramic technology to Singapore to produce latex cups for rubber tapping while the latter provided the labour required to harvest the latex. Through this installation, the artist hopes to pay homage to the unknown makers and users of rubber-tapping cups.

 Crafting Indian Scripts Platform

 Crafting Indian Scripts Platform

Level 2, Indian Heritage Centre

The Crafting Indian Scripts Platform is designed as a demonstration and interactive space for visitors to observe and engage with contemporary craftspeople from across India. We invite you to observe, learn and engage with the craftspeople while they create unique objects and textiles incorporating Indian scripts.