Curiosity #51: Haw Par Villa and Hell as you’ll know it


You have nothing to fear of Hell; that is, of course, if you are perfect. Although I might mention that if you consider yourself a perfect specimen, then there is almost undoubtedly a flaw in your moral reasoning that has at some point or another – really think, now – led you to slip into some minor wrong for which you must now atone.

So go on, lay on top of the Devil’s fork.
Now tell me on which prong you fit.

In Haw Par Villa, an old theme park, a small section of property is reserved for visitors and their sins. The theme park, located far from other tourist destinations, is among the less visited Singaporean landmarks. It was created by the inventor of Tiger Balm, Aw Boon Par, for his beloved younger brother, and contains colorful statues depicting scenes from Chinese mythology along with a smattering of life-sized dioramas displaying moral lessons from Confucian literature.

In the right wing of the park, a little plaster and paint go a long way: all the way, in fact, to the Underworld. The statue exhibit, entitled The Ten Courts of Hell, display a horrific journey through the afterlife under cover of a man-made cave. This serves as a warning for park-goers human enough to forget their daily vices.

Care to take a peek at what you deserve?

So long as you're sure...

So long as you’re sure…

Upon stepping in front of the entrance to the Ten Courts, you will be greeted by two faces: Ox-Head and Horse-Face. They will be the first ones to greet you when you die, and they’ll usher you to your fate.

Your entrance into Hell

Your entrance into Hell

The First Court:

Upon entering the underworld, your past deeds will be reviewed. At this point you’ll hold your breath, perhaps say a prayer, and hope that your judge, a dead Chinese king, will deem you virtuous and send you directly to Heaven on the Golden Bridge. You’ll look in the Mirror of Retribution and try to see a reflection that is pure and flawless.

Too bad; your soul is speckled and rotting, and it shows on your face. Move forward.



The Second Court:

Have you inflicted injury upon another person? Or have you stolen anything? Ever? This is where you’ll be thrown into a volcanic pit.
Have you ever gambled? Prepare to be frozen into a block of ice.
Involved yourself with prostitution? You’ll be thrown into a pool of blood and drowned.

Prostitutes drowning in a pool of blood

Prostitutes drowning in a pool of blood

The Third Court:

Those guilty of ungratefulness, disrespect toward their elders, and escape from prison will have their hearts cut out.
Drug traffickers and addicts (equated with tomb robbers), along with advocates of social unrest will be tied to red-hot copper pillars and grilled like hot dogs.

The Fourth Court:

Those who dare dodge their taxes, refuse to pay their rent, or those who involve themselves in business fraud will have their bones pounded to dust by a stone mallet.
Disobedience towards one’s siblings and lack of filial piety will result in the grinding of one’s flesh by a large stone.

The Fifth Court:

Money lenders with outrageous interest rates will be thrown onto a hill of knives.

Wall Street?

Wall Street?

The Sixth Court:

Those who cheat, curse, or abduct others will be thrown onto a tree of knives and left as pickings for carrion.
Have you ever “misused” a book or witnessed pornographic material? Have you ever broken a rule or regulation? Worst of all: have you ever wasted food? Busted.

Body sawn in two.

Body sawn in two.

The Seventh Court:

Rumor-mongers, beware! Your tongue will be pulled out with pliers far filthier than your lies.
Rapists and ignorant, ill-meaning fools who drive others to their death will be thrown into a wok of boiling oil.

The Eighth Court:

Those who cause the remotest amount of trouble for their respective parents and/or other family members, as well as those who cheat during examinations, will have their intestines and organs pulled out.
The harming of other human beings to benefit oneself will result in body dismemberment.

The Ninth Court:

Now that you have been mutilated (quite literally) to pieces, you will make your way to The Pavillion of Forgetfulness, where an old lady will invite you for some tea. She will introduce herself as Meng Po, and she will look like she has questionable intentions. After drinking tea in the pavilion, you will forget everything about your past life and move on to this fate’s final stage.

The Tenth Court:

The Samsara, or “The Wheel of Reincarnation” will guide you out of this Hell Hole via one of six paths. Depending on your conduct in your now-forgotten life, you will return to Earth as one of the following: nobility, common man, quadruped, fowl, fish, or insect. Good luck to you.

May you enjoy the sunlight, and may you live long before the Horse-Face.

2 thoughts on “Curiosity #51: Haw Par Villa and Hell as you’ll know it

  1. After corrupting myself for over 35 years writing bad headlines and trite advertising copy, I’m afraid Horse Face would send me straight through all 10 courts of hell. Of course, I’ve already survived the 11th one: having to sit through all your gymnastics meets!! Great posting, Julie–be sure to copy the Singapore Chamber of Commerce!! Love, Mr. Daddy

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