‘Haw Par Villa is a Chinese mythology theme park in Singapore with more than 1,000 statues and dioramas glorifying Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian folklore. Built in 1937 by brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par – famous for selling the popular medicinal paste Tiger Balm – older locals look back fondly at a place where parents would bring children for an education in morality, complete with bloody visual aids.
‘In 1988, the Singapore Tourism Board took charge of the Tiger Balm Gardens and renamed it “Haw Par Villa Dragon World”. The Haw Par in the park’s name is based on the Aw brothers’ personal names—Haw and Par, which literally mean “tiger” and “leopard” respectively. The dioramas and statues were restored, while plays, acrobatic displays and puppet shows were organised and held there. The management imposed entrance fees but the high fees discouraged visitors, so the management incurred a loss of S$31.5 million over 10 years. The park management made a profit during its first year of operations after renovations in 1994, broke even in 1995, but started incurring losses over the next three years and was forced to provide free entry in 1998.
‘Thousands used to throng the park, and it once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with attractions like Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park. In its glory days, this avant guard theme park was an iconic symbol in Singapore, and considered a must see by locals and foreigners alike. “Every Singaporean over the age of 35 probably has a picture of themselves at Haw Par,” said Desmond Sim, a local playwright. Those pictures would probably include the following statues, each made from plastered cement paste and wire mesh: a human head on the body of a crab, a frog in a baseball cap riding an ostrich, and a grandmother suckling at the breast of another woman.
‘But the highlight of this bizarre park are the Ten Courts of Hell. This attraction used to be set inside a 60-metre long trail of a Chinese dragon but the dragon has been demolished, so the attraction is now covered by grey stone walls. A tableau of severe disciplines are shown in painstaking detail, along with a placard stating the sin that warranted it. Tax dodgers are pounded by a stone mallet, spikes driven into a skeletal chest cavity like a bloodthirsty pestle in mortar. Spot the tiny tongue as it is pulled out of a screaming man, watch the demon flinging a young girl into a hill of knives. Ungratefulness results in a blunt metal rod cutting a very large, fleshly heart out of a woman. Perhaps the most gruesome depiction is an executioner pulling tiny intestines out from a man tied to a pole. The colons were visible and brown. The crime? Cheating during exams.
‘However, Haw Par Villa is facing an afterlife of its own. As the country of Singapore developed, and became almost futuristic in it’s modern appearance, the thousands of dated figurines that make up this park began to lose their luster along with much of their original appeal. Some of the areas of Haw Par Villa have been shut down due to lack of preservation Hardly anyone goes there anymore, and closed sections of the park point to an uncertain future. For some it’s a refreshing antidote to the mall-culture, but it looks like mall culture is winning out over a day out in hell.’ — collaged
Haw Par Villa: The Renaissance
by Genevieve Kong
Copy of Haw Par Villa
by Jiamin Wu
Haw Par Villa Singapore: The last blooming lotus
It will all be demolished one day. The land is worth billions.
A walkthrough of the Ten Courts of Hell attraction at Haw Par Villa
Rebranding Haw Par Villa
by Leonard Koh
This rebranding project aims to promote about Haw Par Villa through the creation of a new identity to create a new impression to people who have been there before and arouse the curiosity of those who have never heard or been there before. Other materials have been created to promote about the area and others have been created as keepsakes and a reason to return.
Postcards (Sun Wu Kong)
Postcard (10 Courts of Hell)
Postcard (Laughing Buddha)
An extensive and different take on rebranding for Haw Par Villa. Targeting the youths for a change, this project aims to revive Haw Par Villa and also the traditional chinese values and cultures that comes with it.
Brochure & Postcards
p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Ha. Everyone, FaBlog has something new in its uppermost register entitled ‘Let’s “Facebook” The Music’. Become one with it? Secondarily, here’s David himself: ‘Is everyone in L.A. out of town for the long weekend? If not and you’d like to score some bargains in DVDs, CDs and Books, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org’. ** Misanthrope, Pretty much whenever I’ve done mushrooms I get about 40 minutes of paranoia followed by a joy that makes the hell worth it. I went to Taco Bell the last time I was in LA after a long break. I was actually disappointed by their healthier food. I like its former trashiness. This time it seemed like a low budget Chipotle or something. Still not bad though. A lot of people I know had a fast food job at some point, and they seem to have gotten a lot of entertaining stories out of it. I read ‘The Cement Garden’. I remember liking it, but I liked the movie much more. I’ll give his later stuff a peek. Oh, right, Memorial Day today. Being over here, I totally forgot about it. Sleep in, although I guess by the time you see this it’ll be too late for my order/wish to be effective. Laze about? ** _Black_Acrylic, When I was young and when top grade LSD, mescaline, peyote, etc. was easily available, we thought the ‘shrooms people were wusses. It took a while for me to appreciate the poetry. I was just reading about ‘Beats’ and desiring to see it the other day. Huh, cool. When I do, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for Andrew. ** Steve Erickson, Yeah, I wrote what I wrote too quickly and lazily. What it is is an excellent little start. Yep, ‘Parasite’ took it. I think it opens here soon. The only real surprise was the Dardennes winning best director since everything I’ve heard/read about their new film says it’s one of their weaker ones. It was funny watching the ceremony in that when Céline Sciamma won best screenplay for ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ I thought, when they announced it, she looked really disappointed, which seemed very odd. But I talked to Gisele, who has an ‘in’ because the main actress in the film, Adèle Haenel, is one of the stars of our upcoming TV series and is one of the performers in the new theater piece we’re working on, and she said that the director and cast were told to be at the closing ceremony because they were going to win something. ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ was one of the films heavily tipped to win the Palme d’Or, and Adele was heavily tipped to win Best Actress, so when the Best Screenplay award was announced, and they knew that was all the film was going to get because Cannes almost never rewards a film twice, they were in fact very disappointed. Anyway, … ** Nick Toti, Awesome that it went so well! Congrats, man! I have never seen any of his films, no. Hm, maybe I’ll see if there’s enough online to do a post about his work. Making those posts is a great way to get a fast education on a filmmaker. Thanks! Enjoy! ** Okay. Here’s another old, restored post from the blog’s faux-travelogue thematic wing. See you tomorrow.