Brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par opened Haw Par Villa in 1937 to teach traditional Chinese legends and values through sculpture. The brothers were millionaires due to the Tiger Balm ointment they created and the “park” was originally called Tiger Balm Gardens after their concoction. The Singapore Tourism Board took over the park in the 1980’s renaming it Haw Par Villa Dragon World and attempted to run it as a theme park with an entrance fee. This proved unsuccessful and the fee was dropped in 2001 at which time the park recovered it’s original name.
There are more than 1,000 brightly colored statues placed throughout the park, but the biggest draw is a long narrow cavern that houses incredibly detailed and gruesome depictions of the 10 Courts of Hell. In Chinese mythology, sinners must go through each of the 10 Courts where they are punished for the crimes and misdeeds they have committed. In the final court, they kneel before the “President” and their next reincarnation is determined. I only photographed one of the ten, but if you’re interested in seeing each of them in all their bloody glory, check out this website.
This park is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen. I doubt it teaches young children many lessons, but it could definitely scare them into being model citizens. You can view my Haw Par Villa photo album in it’s entirety here.