The Bronze Stylized Crocodile Sculptures of Kuching

Staring across the caramel waters of the Sarawak River with mouths open, the two decorative, ornate crocodile sculptures line the banks of the main river of Kuching. They’re part of the lively Kuching waterfront, located on the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo. For visitors to Kuching, the crocodiles are photogenic darlings for visitors, their detailed forms harmonious with iconic buildings on the other bank of the river. But they carry an air of mystery – are they cannons, sculptures, fountains? And are they dragons, or crocodiles?

Drawing of a crocodile shaped sculpture in Borneo malaysia

Crocodile Cannons of Kuching

Propped up on two legs, heads pointed upwards, and with mouths opened impossibly wide to give a majestic ferocity, the crocodile sculptures are certainly eye catching. Their bodies are elongated to give the impression that they might be cannons – specifically Lantaka, a slender bronze cannon with intricate details, historically found on South East Asian merchant ships and warships.

The image of fierce crocodiles exploding cannonballs at enemy ships is certainly an exciting prospect!

Historically, cannons served as a symbol of power for the British ruling family, the Brooke family also known as the ‘White Rajahs’. They were granted Kuching province to rule by the Sultanate of Brunei as a reward for their role in suppressing local insurgency. They governed from 1841 to 1956. Cannons, while overwhelmingly outdated by the 20th century, were positioned facing rivers as a sign that any sea attack could be repelled.

In a tradition beginning in 1910, a cannon shot was fired from Fort Margherita across the waters over the Sarawak River every evening at 8pm. At the time, the White Rajah Sir Charles Brooke and his wife Margaret Lili Alice de Windt were residents of the nearby Astana Palace, and the cannon was an obtuse signal that guests needed to leave so that the dinner service could commence. The tradition lasted all the way until the late 1970’s.

Crocodile Fountains of Kuching

But there’s no giveaway that they are indeed cannons; indeed, the sculptures are functional fountains too, and can shoot water out of their mouths in long jets. The Kuching waterfront, a popular night time entertainment hub, feature huge water fountains as part of a musical light show.

Yet, they may not even be crocodiles at all, with many speculating that they are mythological Chinese dragons. Despite their popularity in photo subject matter, not much information is readily available about who cast them, and when. They recall the real crocodiles of wild Borneo, but are also peaceful, motionless guardians of the Sarawak, watching the water taxis ply the waters.

Visiting the Bronze Stylized Crocodile Sculptures

Visiting the bronze crocodile sculptures in Kuching is easy. They are located along the waterfront on the opposite bank from the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, beside the Darul Hana footbridge. They are well worth a visit to admire the craftsmanship.


The bronze stylized crocodile sculptures are some of my favourite sculptures that I’ve visited whilst travelling. While they’re a small feature of the Kuching waterfront, they are beautiful additions to the aesthetics of the city that recall its history and the natural world.