Gold earring discovered at Bukit Larangan (Fort Canning Hill)

This is a gold earring found at Bukit Larangan, otherwise known as Fort Canning. It was discovered in 1928 a few meters away from Keramat Iskander Shah (believed to be the shrine of the last Malay king of Singapura) due to excavation works undertaken at Fort Canning for a new reservoir. The earring was found along with 10 other pieces of jewellery (consisting of armlets, earrings and gold rings), however, only an armlet and two earrings remain in the collection of the museum. Both earrings are set with 11 diamonds and feature a bar and socket joint. The similar ornamentation and style of the earrings suggest that they may form a pair. As Singapore possesses no natural geological deposits of gold, the pieces of jewellery likely arrived via trade routes, a testament to Singapore’s pre-colonial connections with the surrounding Southeast Asian region and its significance as a regional trading port by the early 14th century. It is possible that these pieces were brought by visiting traders or elites. Such ornaments would have served as visual indicators of social status or gifts as a means of forging valuable alliances. More precise dating indicates that the hoard of jewellery likely dates to the mid-14th century, after Singapore was captured by the Javanese Hindu maritime empire, the Majapahit, in 1360 A.D. and came under its cultural and political ambit.