Tuesday, 5 October 2010

By The Way – Mr President, Handbag Set For You?

We all love prezzies, yes we do. We are all gracious people and appreciate it deeply when people buy us gifts – really we do. Whether breathtaking or ugly, thoughtful or ridiculous, in good taste or bad, we know it’s the thought that counts and we are so happy you went through the trouble. We know what to do with the ‘hits’ but honestly, gently, discreetly, what should we do with the ‘misses’? Eeek, and cringe.

After I poked about at the Singapore National Museum’s recently launched exhibition, Presidential Presents, I suspect the First Ladies, past and present, were often thrown in the same dilemma too.

From now until 9 January 2011, the exhibition displays 50 official gifts received by Singapore’s presidents from heads of states and dignitaries of various countries. They are particularly significant, the curator explains, as they are carefully chosen to symbolize the good relations between the countries and the heads of states, etc, etc…..

I hear – though admittedly unconfirmed – that the Istana was very keen to support this exhibition, and offered to loan the museum its entire collection of gifts. But I am told the museum politely decided to pick out only 50…..the nicest 50, of course.....(Sigh, First Ladies' dilemma you see.....)

All sparkly, and glittering and shiny, there were lots of gold things, bejeweled daggers and swords, silver tableware and boxes, punchbowls and tea sets (we can relate to that), beautiful Japanese porcelain and even what looked like a crystal kopitiam spittoon! What caught Madam’s eye? An amazingly intricate gold, diamond and emerald handbag set from Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to President Nathan, complete with lipstick and perfume holder, plus powder compact. (How strange!..) The 'most valuable artefact on display', this is a definite 'must-eyeball'! (Pictured at top but you can't see the diamonds in the pix - that's why you need to GO and see it.) I loved the chameleon-rich South African Ardmore kettle, the adorable pumpkin teapot from Vietnam (tiff image, so can't upload) and the giant seabass wooden salad bowl from Swaziland (below)!

If you’re in the vicinity, pop in. You'll probably take it all in within 15 minutes, but it's fun to see.....even if it’s just to see the blinged-out handbag set!

National Museum of Singapore
The Balcony, Level 2
Free admission


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