A Pair of Sikh Guard Figures

The Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery was officially opened on 1 January 1922 to serve the burial needs of the wider Chinese society in Singapore; it functioned as such until it closed in 1973. One of the interesting features of Chinese graves at the Bukit Brown Cemetry include statues of Sikh guards, door gods, animals, lions and Golden Boy and Jade Maiden acting as “ancient tomb guardians”.In 1881, a Sikh Police Contingent (SPC) was established in Singapore, with the first contingent arriving from Punjab on 26 March 1881. These policemen were stationed all over Malaya to maintain law and order and at the end of World War II, the SPC was disbanded in 1945. In addition to the SPC, the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company maintained a Dock Police Force composed of Sikh recruits. During the 1930s, Sikh police forces were stationed at the naval base in Sembawang and the Royal Air Force airbase in Seletar. They also found employment as security guards (jagas) and watchmen for private employers. In the Straits Settlements, the Sikhs were seen as synonymous with security personnel. This was also how families of the deceased perceived the Sikhs and therefore placed a pair of Sikh guards to protect the graves. The presence of Indian Sikh guards in a Chinese cemetery is yet another indicator of the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore’s multicultural society.