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Get your culture and kawaii fix at "Paw-verbs on the Lawn", which will be open to the public until 30 May 2021. PHOTO: Malay Heritage Centre

Meow! Malay Proverbs Get Catty - In The Cutest Way

Attention cat lovers everywhere! It's the exhibition nobody asked for but everyone needed. "Paw-verbs on the Lawn" is a collaboration between Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) and insta-famous Japanese illustrator Juno.

Thirty two-dimensional print standees of vivid cat illustrations doing very human things will be featured alongside 10 common Malay proverbs, situated on the lawn of the centre.

"When the cat is around, the mouse will not squeak" - a Malay proverb about the arrival of a person who instils fear.PHOTO: Malay Heritage Centre

But what do cats and Malay proverbs have in common, you might ask? Our feline friends have been used to metaphorically convey different aspects of human behaviour, as well as impart age-old lessons handed down from generation to generation. 

In these proverbs, the cat is portrayed multifacetedly – as shy, elusive, intimidating, authoritative, restless, quick and even quarrelsome. 

The 2D print standees are based on Japanese artist Juno's famous IG-famous cat illustrations.PHOTO: Malay Heritage Centre

Who better to bring the kucing to life than cat-obsessed artist Juno, who is known for her super kawaii depictions of the animal on her Instagram which has over 300,000 followers.

“Singapore is a lively country and I am very delighted to be given the opportunity to let many people in Singapore know more about my illustrations," the artist said in a statement.

"I feel very honoured to be working with the Malay Heritage Centre, and I hope that many people will visit the lawn installation, and enjoy Japan’s cat illustrations.”

The 10 proverbs featured are:

  • Bagai kucing lepas senja (like a cat after dusk)
    Meaning: A description of someone who is difficult or hard to find.
  • Ikan gantung, kucing tunggu (like dangling fish before a cat)
    Meaning: A state of annoyance caused by the inability to get what you want. 
  • Anak kucing menjadi harimau (the kitten has become a tiger)
    Meaning: Someone who gains power and status which elevates his or her standing in society. 
  • Duduk seperti kucing, melompat seperti harimau (crouches like a cat and leaps like a tiger)
    Meaning: A quiet person who is agile and quick-thinking. 

  • Serta lalu kucing, tikus tidak berdecit (when the cat is around, the mouse will not squeak)
    Meaning: With the arrival of someone who instils fear, those who fear the person will keep silent.
  • Seperti anjing dan kucing (like a dog with a cat)
    Meaning: A description of two persons who are always quarrelling. 
  • Seperti kucing biang (like a cat in heat)
    Meaning: A feeling of restlessness which cannot be attributed to any cause or reason.
  • Bagai mengail kucing hanyut (fishing for a drowning cat)
    Meaning: A wasted act or deed. 
  • Kucing bertanduk (a cat with horns)
    Meaning: A piece of advice to not expect the impossible.
  • Malu-malu Kucing (like a shy cat)
    Meaning: A way of saying that a person is pretending to be shy. 
PHOTO: Malay Heritage Centre

"Paw-verbs on the Lawn" is a loving tribute to the feline creature and its significance to the Malay literary culture.

You get to learn the meaning behind these common Malay proverbs, plus cute-sify your IG feed - what's not to love?

There's also a whole slew of related programmes and activities including a performative storytelling session and even a cat sticker scavenger hunt which is perfect for the kiddos.

Come, come, don't malu malu kuching! Head to the Malay Heritage Centre at 85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501 (map) now. 

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