Haw Par Villa: A Unique Attraction in Singapore

Asia - Editor - 08 January 2009

Haw Par Villa: A Unique Attraction in Singapore

Located in Pasir Panjang, Singapore, Haw Par Villa is a theme park unlike any other in the world. Depicting scenes from Chinese folklore, culture, history and legends, as well as illustrating features of the complex moral, social, philosophical and social teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius, this unique park is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who take time to explore it.

Visitors can expect to see vivid portrayals of characters from Chinese mythology such as the Laughing Buddha, the Goddess of Mercy and the Taoist deities of Fu Lu Shou among the twenty-five clusters of figurines and statues. Arguably the most famous of the exhibits at Haw Par Villa is the Ten Courts of Hell, a gruesome and frightening underworld of torture and torments set in the mouth of a dragon measuring more than sixty meters in length, representing the ten steps of judgment to be endured before reincarnation takes place. These include the bridge leading to the Ten Courts of Hell, a shackled man being flogged, men being prodded with a pitchfork, a man drowning in a whirlpool of blood, a man with an impossibly long tongue protruding from his mouth and plenty of bloody dismemberment of people. All this is accompanied by notice boards setting out the crime and punishment being depicted.

Other exhibits include apes dressed in uniforms and carrying rifles, a smaller replica of the American Statue of Liberty, a wide variety of larger than life colorful statues of part beast part human creatures, a rat battle with rats carrying a wounded rat on a stretcher, mermaids and mercrabs, a car accident with a description of what happened and much, much more.

Originally known as the Tiger Balm Gardens, Haw Par Villa was constructed by brothers, Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, in 1937 to honor traditional Chinese values and mythology. The brothers were the developers of the world-renowned Tiger Balm therapeutic heat rub which is based on a formulation originally created by their father, Aw Chu Kin. After selling the park to the Singapore Tourism Board in 1979, it was renamed Haw Par Villa and a number of changes were made to the exhibits, as well as a Chinese Heritage Center being constructed within its grounds.

Singapore’s Haw Par Villa contains more than 1,000 statues and 150 giant dioramas providing a graphically unrestrained visual spectacle which visitors have described as “fascinating”, “entertaining”, “bizarre”, and even “disturbing” – and most certainly unforgettable.


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