Monday, 18 October 2010

The Ravages Of Time

The Teochew community in Singapore will no doubt be delighted that one of their oldest temples is fully being restored.  It has a long and important history.

Yueh Hai Ching temple owners, the Ngee Ann Kongsi foundation have committed $5 million to restore it over two years, beginning in 2011.

Artisans from China will be employed on the project as I suspect the necessary skills are no longer available in Singapore.

According to National Library records, in 1826, a group of Teochew settlers from Guangzhou, China, established a wood-and-atap shrine dedicated to Tian Hou, the Goddess of the Sea.

This was on Philip Street which was a coastal area in the times before reclamation of the swampy areas where it stood.  The temple faced the sea and was a place where newly-arrived Chinese immigrants as well as sailors and traders travelling between Southern China and Singapore came to offer thanks to the goddess for their safe journey across the seas.

Its name Yueh Hai Ching means "temple of the calm sea built by the Guangzhou people".

Yueh Hai Ching Temple holds a special distinction in Singapore as the Chinese Emperor Guang Xu presented a plaque to the temple in 1907.  Only one other temple in Singapore, the Thian Hock Keng Temple received similar recognition from the Emperor.

It is to the credit of the clan associations and private philanthropists that they are prepared to save these heritage landmarks.  The climate of the tropics ravages such structures and many of the former architectural glories have also been lost to the bulldozer.

Temples have fared better than most and Singapore in recent decades has been very active in conserving heritage buildings.
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1 comment:

Jolly Roger said...

News today that the old KTM railway station will also be preserved.

"THE KTM train station in Tanjong Pagar will be conserved and will serve as a centrepiece for any future development on the site"

Hopefully this means preserved in tact and not just a facade shell