Singaporean Mandarin Database
This database contains a collection of Mandarin terms which have cultural, historical or sentimental value unique to Singapore. These terms may be used by Singaporeans in the past or at present. Some of the terms are read in print while others are used in our everyday conversations.
samsui women (red headscarf)
Women who worked in construction sites in the olden days. They usually wore red headscarf, hence their namesake.
- These hardworking women, mostly from the Samsui region in Guangzhou, were largely responsible for laying a solid foundation for Singapore. Between 1934 and 1938, around 190,000 women from China came to Malaya. A large number of them found their way to Singapore.
- To earn a living, some of the women started working in construction sites. When they were working at the sites, they wore red headscarves. One explanation for the headscarves was that the red headscarf is the traditional headdress for Hakka women. When the Samsui women worked alongside the Hakka women, they also started donning the red headscarves. The red headscarf is an important symbol of the Samsui women, and an important part of Singapore’s history.
The original short film featuring the stories of five ordinary Singaporeans was aired at the National Day Parade. Among those featured in the film was 82-year-old Samsui woman, Madam Woo Yun Sum, who was there to watch the parade. (Lianhe Wanbao, 10/8/2018)
TERMS USED IN OTHER REGIONS