March 21, 2008

290407 崇文阁 Chong Wen Ge

In 1849, 陈金声 Tan Kim Seng, a leader of the Hokkien community in Singapore, established 崇文阁 chong2 wen2 ge2, the first recorded local Chinese school, right next to Thian Hock Kheng temple. Those with a pedantic interest in Chong Wen Ge might want to find out more about this article:

《新加坡崇文阁非学校考辨》(Chongwen Ge Was Not a School), in 李元瑾编《南大学人》(新加坡:南洋理工大学,2001),页231-244。

written by an NTU Centre for Chinese Language & Culture research fellow. Those who romanticise about the exotic lands & dragons & silk & spices of the Far East & are partial to flowery (lotus & jasmine only, no ang moh roses & violets) titles such as The Peony Pavilion, Dream of the Red Chamber, & House of Flying Daggers, the name of Chong Wen Ge may be translated as Court of Literacy Worship ;) The school even has a three-tiered pagoda to complete the sandalwood-perfumed image of gnarled pines on mist-shrouded mountain peaks straight out of a Chinese inkbrush painting & (drunk) ancient poets waxing lyrical beneath a full autumn moon:


In ancient times men wore flowers in their hats & robes designed to show off bulging pot bellies:


The guy on the left holds calligraphy brushes while the guy on the right holds books (above). Their counterparts on the panels of the other side door (below) hold what looks like an inkstone (guy on the right) & what doesn't look like anything the cat knows (something wrapped up in a gold bag, guy on the left):


Inside the main door:


A white-eyed dragon:


Is this the kind of 轿子 (sedan chair) used for wedding processions?


The square holes on either side (above) are for poles to be slotted through for it to be hoisted up.


A more modern building in the grounds, not sure if it was originally part of Chong Wen Ge:


Built in 1913 & also owned by the 福建会馆 Hokkien Huay Kuan, it now houses a company that sells Buddha statues & figurines. There are beautiful golden statues of the various bodhisattvas on display inside, but no photographs were allowed. A big fat 龙龟 long2 gui1 (dragon tortoise) at the entrance:


For how long more can bamboo & dragons hold out?


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