The Samsui Woman


Photography Print by Yip Cheong Fun

This print comes with a mat board.


The Samsui Women - Returning Home

Samsui women were actually the heroines of the bygone era, the heroic stories written all over Chinatown, but more importantly, in various construction projects all over Singapore during the period of 1930 to the end of the 20th century. They became heroines out of a dire necessity. It was the air in the circumstances that made them strong challenging them to fix the harsh realities with grit and determination.

Around 1930s, the colonial authorities started to curb the flow of male sinkhehs into Singapore but they allowed the free flow of women and children into the country. This was done in order to obtain a proper balance in the ratio of women to men in the immigrant population. So many single one came to Singapore from the Guangdong province to work, and they provided equal to the challenge of rough work, they are called Samsui women, because they came from the Samsui district. But there were others from Sun Yap, Fay Yuen, Dongguan, Seiyap and Hock San. Though most of them wore their distinctive red, headgear, some more blue on festive occasions those from Sun Yap wore blue most of the time. The women from the Seiyap district in Jiangmen prefecture wore black head gears, and they worked mainly in shipyards.

Whatever their origins, the Samsui women have become shining examples of matured womanhood - reliable, resilient, responsible and resolute. They are symbolic of the spirit of endeavour of the early immigrants in Singapore. Some women became domestic servants, or otherwise, followed more lucrative and less onerous avenues of work. Most of this woman, who came barefoot and hopeful of a new life in Singapore had to endure rough work alongside the men in the fields, and in worksites their courage and independence in the way, deliberate and struggled anthem, a place in Singapore history, their story had become an essential part of Singaporean women’s history, and they have been regarded as a symbol of female, independence, resilience and courage in Singapore.

More importantly, they have given Singapore a significant part of the heritage of Endeavour. This photo, like the Granite sculpture of these women in front of the URA Building, home of Singapore’s planners and builders. Is it worth a tribute to this group of Singapore pioneers in succinctly captured the struggle and perseverance of the tough women.

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