Haw Par Villa
For an enlarged view of any photos click on the photo
Haw Par Villa was
also affectionately known as
Tiger Balm Gardens in the 1950 amd 1960s. During these years
the place was nearly always bursting at the seams. Nowadays
it seems to be an almost forgotten treasure by the people of Singapore.
There is a slight uphill climb towards the magnificent
you will find an amazing variety of statues ranging Buddhas, tigers,
apes and a gruesome display known as the Ten Courts of Hell, we always
called it the torture chamber when we were young. Before we
to Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Gardens) I remember my mother advising us
not to visit this group of statues. Being lads we of course
ignored the advice and had a good look!
These are the gaurdians of the Courts of Hell.
Those who must be judged cross the
bridge into Hell where they undergo a preliminary trial in the first
court of King Qinguang
robbers, inflicting physical injury are thrown into a volcano pit,
whilst prostitutes are thrown into a pool of blood and drowned.
Corruption, stealing and gambling are
punished by one being frozen into blocks of ice
disrespect to elders or escape from prison have their heart cut-out
traffickers and tomb robbers are tied to a red hot copper
pillar and grilled
dodging, refusal to pay rent or committing business fraud
results in being pounded by a stone mallet
to one's siblings or lack of filial piety results in being ground up by
a large stone
Plotting another's death for his
property or money or money lenders with exorbitant interest rates
results in being thrown onto a hill of knives
abducting others results in being thrown onto a tree of knives
of books, possession of pornographic material, breaking written rules
and regulations or wasting food results in one’s body sawn
into half or thrown onto a tree of knives
Rumourmongers or sowing discord among
family members have their tongue pulled out. Rapists or those
driving someone to their death are thrown into a wok of boiling oil
For a lack
of filial obedience, causing trouble for parents or family members or
cheating during examinations one’s intestines and organs
pulled out. Those harming others to benefit ones self have
their body dismembered
murderers and rapists plus those committing any other unlawful conduct
have their head and arms chopped off. Neglect of the old and
the young results in being crushed under boulders
one survives all that), there is the "Wheel of Reincarnation" and the
"Pavilion of Forgetfulness" where one can drink the "Meng Po Magic Tea"
forget the past to be reborn either as human or animal.
I must stress that not all of the garden stauary is like the Ten Courts
buddha statue photographed in 1957 by John Harper and a Buddha statue
photographed in 2007 by Dave Papworth.
John Harper photo from 1957 with Dave Papworth's tiger from 2007..
Harper brothers, John Bob and Tom in 1957, not sure who the big fella
behind is! Sumo wrestlers taken in 2007 by Dave Papworth.
lion is typical of the use of colour in the gardens and finally a view
of the gate on the way out. Even after 50 years since my
visit I still remmeber Haw Par Villa as a magical place that
should be on everbodies list of places to visit.
The photographs in this article were mainly taken in 2007 by David
Papworth on a nostalgic visit except where otherwise stated. David had
been in Singapore when his father was stationed at RAF Tengah in the
1960s some years after my own father had been stationed there.
If you remember David from those days then get in touch and
I'll link you with him.
Victor Koo, Lam
Chun See and John Harper with the gorilla who seems to have lost the