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Pacific Sikh Statues In A Chinese Cemetery


May 10, 2010
Ancient Greece
Bukit Brown Cemetery (aka Kopi Sua or Coffee Hill) was officially set up as a public Chinese burial ground in Singapore on 1 January 1922. It is the biggest Chinese graveyard outside China. It is located between Lornie Road and Mount Pleasant Road, and off Sime Road and Kheam Hock Road, and is still in existence today, despite being abandoned. It was opened for more than half a century until its closure in 1973. There are about 100,000 graves in an area of about 200 hectares in size.

The cemetery was named after its first owner, George Henry Brown a shipowner, trader and broker who arrived in Singapore in the 1840s. Many well-known and prominent Singaporeans are interred at Bukit Brown Cemetery. Bukit Brown is also “distinguished” for having some of the oldest and biggest graves in Singapore. The oldest grave in Bukit Brown dated to as early as 1833.

While most of the graves have staues resembling characters from Chinese mythology, some of the more elaborate graves in Bukit Brown also have Sikh statues guarding both flanks of the graves. In fact, there are 30 pairs of stone Sikh guards, most of them unique, and believed to be modeled after real Sikh guards/photos. During British colonial times, large number of Sikhs were recruited from India to Singapore to help maintain peace and order. They were specially suite for the job because of their big size, fierce bearded look and bravery. Anyone who is not versed in British colonial history will be completely puzzled by the presence of Indian statues in Chinese graveyards.

History has it that Chew Geok Leong (d. 1937, Singapore) was a Chinese physician who opened a TCM clinic in Geylang Serai Shophouse. He had prepared his coffin, tombs and Sikh statues while he was still alive and kept them in one of his servant’s room. The Sikh statues are carrying rifles with puppies beside them.

(Source: http://vicinitysights.com/bukit-brown/ , http://bukitbrown.org/ , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Former_cemeteries_in_Singapore#Bukit_Brown_Cemetery)


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