22 Sep 2022

The Historical & Iconic William Farquhar Collection

We wanted to be able to honour the rich history of Singapore on our lacquerware. Hence, we chose to use the beautiful watercolour drawings commissioned by the iconic figure, William Farquhar. These drawings by unidentified Chinese artists illustrate the animals and plants of Malacca and Singapore. Currently, the entire collection can be found in the National Museum of Singapore under the “A Voyage of Love and Longing” exhibition. 

Of the collection of 477 watercolour paintings, we have chosen eight for our William Farquhar collection. These are the Blue-winged Pitta, Slow Loris, Black-naped Oriole, Dark-handed Gibbon, Lesser Mousedeer, Magpie Robin, Malaysian Tapir, and Black-capped Kingfisher.


Blue-winged Pitta: This colourful resident of Southeast Asia and Malaysia is an uncommon visitor to Singapore. It is often foraging for earthworms and snails in the leaf litter, but can also be perched on low trees such as the wild mangosteen tree depicted in the drawing.




Slow Loris: This well-loved, large-eyed, solitary primate is now extremely rare in Singapore due to habitat loss and poaching.




Black-naped Oriole: The black-naped oriole is an attractive resident that is common in Singapore today, despite being rare in Farquhar’s time. It has a liquid four-note whistle that is used both when perched and in flight.





Dark-handed Gibbon: Farquhar was known to have kept gibbons, so this drawing might have taken place in his own residence in Melaka. It is an endangered species as a result of losses of its forest habitat.




Lesser Mousedeer: This delightful little animal is the smallest known hoofed mammal in the world; it is only the size of a large rabbit. It is still possible to spot this animal in the rainforests of Malaysia and Singapore, where it mainly comes out at night.





Magpie Robin: This bird, known for its pretty and melodious song, is a good luck symbol that indicates joy, love and lasting fortune.




Malaysian Tapir: This animal is significant as it was the first animal William Farquhar saw in Malaya. It is currently endangered and faces global extinction due to habitat loss and hunting.




Black-capped Kingfisher: Kingfishers, a symbol of peace, prosperity and love, are often spotted in Singapore freshwater and coastal wetlands.


The William Farquhar collection is suitable for those who are looking for a unique gift that embodies Singapore’s heritage and history. Click here to view the full collection.