Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Restore Of Its Glory - Singapore Yu Huang Gong

The former Keng Teck Whay Building is situated next to Thian Hock Keng, once home to one of Singapore's oldest organisations, a short walk from Al-Abrar Mosque and former Nagore Dargah. It stands as a witness to the presence and contributions of the Hokkien Peranakans (Straits Chinese) in colonial Singapore and to the community spirit of mutual aid among the pioneers.
A milestone was marked in Singapore's heritage history on 31 March 2010; Taoist Mission (Singapore) became the new owner of the "Keng Teck Whay" a Singapore's National Heritage Monument situated at 150 Telok Ayer Street amidst the heart of the financial district.
  Door Guardians - General Qing Shu Bao and Wei Chi Gong of Tang Dynasty
The 180 year old building was a former "Keng Teck Whay", a dilapidated state and was desperately in need of restoration and conservation. The building's architectural style and social heritage is a living testament to the founding members' efforts and contributions during Singapore's early settlement since 1831. Restoration carried out the entire site as to what I saw a few years ago when I walked pass this site to the Thian Hock Keng next door to pray respect to the deity - Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) that I was once stepped into the temple when I was about three month old baby, carried by my mum and blessed by Goddess Mazu as my 'God-ma". It was a long story back then.
Signage board of Yu Huang Gong
Major restoration were as followed: Entrance Gate, Hall of the Three Heavenly Officials, Heavenly Jade Emperor Pavillion and Qing De Tang (Keng Teck Ancestor Hall).
Blazing Pearl in the centre
The Entrance Gate has a well-proportioned triple bay construction befitting an most important Chinese building with fine granite and stone works which bear the characteristic curved roof ridge with two dancing dragons, blazing pearl in the centre and original Minnan spirals on all hip and both ends of the main ridge.
Guide Rosalind Tan
I was invited to the newly revamped Yu Huang Gong temple by my nostalgia friend Jerome, thus introduced to Ms Rosalind (Guide) by Ms Belinda (Host) to the private event on 13th Sept 2015.
Spiral Staircase
I am grateful to be able to climb up the pavilion from spiral staircase leading up to the 2nd level to see a Cucurbit structure (Hu Lu) on top of the Pavilion represents the octagonal treasure and Heavenly Jade Emperor (Yu Huang Shang Di). To the common folks or elderly, he is the "Father of Heaven" (Tian Gong). This spiral staircase is similar to one of my oldest uncles' bungalow which is narrow and steep.
Heavenly Jade Emperor (Yu Huang Shang Di)
Yu Huang Shang Di existed and recorded as Hao Tian Shang Di during the primitive period. Shang Di has four great Heavenly Ministers: Lord Zi Wei (Bei Ji Zi Wei Da Di) Lord Chang Sheng (Nan Ji Chang Sheng Da Di), Lord Tien Huang (Guo Sheng Tien Huang Da Di) and Lord Imperial Goddess of Earth ( hou Tue Huang Di Qi).
Overview of Thian Hock Keng Pavilion
I was able to view from distance at the top of the pavilion at level 2, to look identical of the structure of the Thian Hock Keng Pavilion of similar to that Yu Huang Gong Pavilion from where I was standing. The shape of "Hu Lu" (Gourd) is what I used to call "Calabash or Ulu" that I normally see in Fengshui shops. I remember I still have a gold "Hu Lu" comes with a chain given by my mum when I was a teenager back then.
Hu Lu (Gourd)@Thian Hock Keng Temple
Octagonal structure of the Pavilion
The curved rood ridge with upturned eaves and is uniquely having a hybrid from of an octagonal upper floor resting on a square plan. The structure of the eight columns made of timber above the granite square floor represents Taoism concept of "Round Heaven and Square Earth" derived from Yin-Yang Bagua and retains its rich 19th to early 20th century paint scheme internally.
Yin-Yang Symbol
Yin-Yang Symbol represents Taoism's way of understanding opposites - e.g. masculine/feminine, light/dark. It also known as the Taiji symbol. The image consists of a circle divided into two teardrop-shaped halves - one white and the other black. Within each half is contained a smaller circle of the opposite colour.
According to Taoist cosmology, Yin-Qi and Yang-Qi – the primordial feminine and masculine energies – produce what are known as the “Five Elements.” The Five Elements, in turn, give birth to the “ten-thousand things,” i.e. all of manifest existence. The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
Master Tan ZhiXia and Master Lee ZhiWang
There are many temples that I visit, with my family when I was a toddler back then. At least, I have learned lots of things from Masters Lee Zhiwang and Rosalind (Guide) during the private tour.
Monumental Memorial Tablet of KTW
The Monumental Memorial Tablet of Keng Teck Whay (KTW) 36 Founding Members is enshrined at the Ancestral Hall of the rear building now honoured as the Keng Teck Whay Building.
Brochure of Singapore Yu Huang Gong
After touring at the temple, we were given a brochure of Singapore Yu Huang Gong and tea session with the Master Lee and Master Tan.
Master Lee Zhiwang & participants
Participants looked on while Master Lee Zhiwang served tea to one of the participants during tea session.
 Master Lee Zhiwang served tea
Master Lee Zhiwang served tea for participants like us with his great gestures and hospitality, shared his story and Q&A during tea session. It was an interesting session while we focus closely of his skill on teacups in his gentle way. I do have a few sets of teacups at home.
Master Tan ZhiXia & Master Lee ZhiWang
At last but least, we managed to take a photo of the two masters standing outside the entrance of the temple. I am thankful for the masters for their hospitality and generous tea session and chat with us and not forgetting Ms Rosalind our fantastic guide, host Ms Behinda and my nostalgia friend Jerome for the invite. A group photo credit by Jerome Lim.
Group Photo

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