Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Tiger rugs

Many of the shops in Singapore and Malaya sold tiger rugs. As a boy, I was fascinated by them and wanted one for our bedroom at Jalan Wijaya. Of course, tigers would have roamed wild not too far from where we lived and were probably easy prey to hunters. At the time, it was something exciting but nowadays, of course, the thought of someone shooting anything as beautiful as a tiger disgusts me. We were all putting Tigers in Our Tanks and tying fake tails to our bikes and car aerials while hunters were out shooting and trapping real ones close by. Tiger rugs seemed to be everywhere back then, in hotels, offices, banks as well as for sale in places like Tangs. Their snarling heads made you think that they could leap up and bite you at any moment. A tiger is certainly a beautiful animal which is why, perhaps, that someone would have wanted one as a rug back then. I think that I've written about the three legged tiger that was on display at the zoo at Johore Bahru (it lost its other leg when it was trapped). Looking back to those days, I would have thought that people there cared little about animals but then I found this newspaper clipping from a Singapore newspaper dated 14th October 1966:
Spider fight : $500 fine
'Get caught staging a spider or fish fight and you might have to pay a $500 fine, 6 months in jail or both.' This was the message from a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals official to Tiong Bahru Secondary School students as part of a kindness to animals campaign.
It's funny that they were so concerned about insects such as spiders but not too concerned about tigers, apes, dogs and other animals. I'm sure that much has changed over the years. Of course, nowadays, I would never want or have anything in my house like a tiger rug but to a small boy, it was something incredible and fascinating.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Derek,
    Did you play 'Spider or Fish Fights' in your childhood days?
    I played a lot of "Spider Fights" then. We even mastered the art "Catching Spider" by classifying them by name, according to their markings and fighting ability, as well as knowing on what type of plant to find them. I remember we would catch big ones on Yam leaves. And we often find the good fighters on a type of creepers than look like "Sireh" (Indian chew on them like tobacco). The spiders are usually darker in color and we name them "Panther", in chinese terms "Black Leopard". Spiders are kept in empty match boxes or metal tins. On the subject of yam, we discovered that the sap of the makes your skin itchy when come in contact. Often when it rains we will pluck a yam leaf which is rather hugh and use it to shelter from the rain. : )

    As for fighting fish I couldn't quite bear to see them tearing at each other : (