Bukit Brown Cemetery – Faces In Stone

Every trip to Bukit Brown is an enjoyable one for us. We’ve jungle trekked, walked with the dogs, and followed the peranakan trail, numerous times here. And now, I thought it would be nice to highlight the faces in stone that stand by the now not so forgotten graves. A lot of the foliage and jungle has been cleared and it made for easier walking in search for some famous graves.

For a number of historical and social reasons, Sikhs and men from Northern India, were commonly recruited as law-enforcers and watchmen in early Singapore. A number of these Indian men were employed by wealthy individual as watchmen and bodyguards. Over time, Indian guards represented a sense of security and loyalty for many people, especially to those who have employed them. As such, quite a few notable graves in Bukit Brown Cemetery have statues of these standing guard by them. Click pictures to enlarge.

Sculptures of lions can be seen at many of the graves. The pairs of stone lions serve as additional guardians, acting like charms to ward off marauding spirits or humans, and thereby serving a similar function to the majestic stone animals that form the ‘Spirit Road’ to the Ming Tombs. Usually, the guardian lion sculptures come in pairs. The male lion sculpture will usually have a ball, representing the sun, under its paw. On the other hand, the female lion sculpture will be seen with a cub under her paw. There are also other stone animals that guard the tombs, like dragons, eagles, and even man’s best friends – dogs. Click pictures to enlarge.

Another familiar face seen at almost every grave is The Golden Boy and Jade Maiden. They are often found standing on either side of a grave. The Golden Boy wears a doctor’s hat and vest or robe, holding a water pipe for his master. The Jade Maiden wears her hair in braids, which means she is unmarried. It is said that the couple are servants to the dead. We were surprised to see that all the faces on each statuette is different from one another. Click pictures to enlarge.

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