10 stages in the Court of Hell at Haw Par Villa
(*Viewer Discretion Advised*)
*Please be forewarned, some of the photos in this post are graphic, and not for the faint of heart (or stomach).
Why is Haw Par Villa historically significant?
Haw Par Villa is well-known for its representations of the Ten Courts of Hell from Chinese folklore. It holds nostalgic significance for many Singaporeans who visited during childhood, as their parents used the opportunity to teach them about traditional Chinese morality.
This was a fascinating part of the Haw Par Villa theme park, in Singapore. It describes, in detail, the torture and punishment for each sin one commits in a lifetime.
As you enter the tunnel, you are greeted by the first court’s king. The following descriptions of each Court are excerpts taken from inside the cave:
First Court of Hell – Yama: King Qinguang
In the First Court of Hell, King Qinguang conducts preliminary trials and each prisoner is judged according to his deeds in his past life. The ‘good’ is distinguished from the ‘evil’ and the King recommends appropriate reward or punishment. Punishment is then carried out in the various Courts.
Those with virtuous conduct in their past life will be lead over the ‘Golden Bridge’ to reach paradise.
Those whose past good deeds outweigh crimes committed will be sent to the ‘Silver Bridge’ to reach paradise.
Those who were evildoers in their past life will be sent to repent before the “Mirror of Retribution” and then taken to a subsequent Court of Hell to be punished.
Second Court of Hell – Yama: King Chujiang
|Inflicting physical Injury||Thrown into a volcanic pit|
|Corruption||Frozen into blocks of ice|
|Stealing and Gambling|
|Prostitutes||Thrown into a pool of blood and drowned|
Third Court of Hell – Yama: King Songdi
|Ungratefulness||Heart cut out|
|Escape from Prison|
|Drug addicts and traffickers||Tied to a red hot copper pillar and grilled|
|Urging People into crime|
Fourth Court of Hell – Yama: King Wuguan
|Tax dodger||Pounded by a stone mallet|
|Disobedience to one’s siblings||Grounded by a large stone|
This accommodates those who were wronged and driven to their death. They would be asked to view how their enemies receive retribution. They would then be judged on their past deeds and given an appropriate punishment.
Fifth Court of Hell – Yama: King Yanluo
|Plotted another’s death for his property or money||Thrown onto a hill of knives|
|Moneylenders with exorbitant interest rates (ha!)|
The Viewing Home Tower is for the evildoers to see how their relatives and family are suffering as a result of their wrong-doings.
Sixth Court of Hell – Yama: King Piencheng
|Cheating||Thrown onto a tree of knives|
|Misuse of books||Body sawed into two|
|Possession of pornographic material|
|Breaking written rules and regulations|
Seventh Court of Hell – Yama: King Taishan
|Rumours-mongers||Tongue pulled out|
|Sowing discord among family members|
|Rapists||Thrown into a wok of boiling oil|
|Driving someone to their death|
Eighth Court of Hell – Yama: King Dushi
|Causing trouble for parents or family members||Intestines and organs pulled out|
|Cheating during examinations|
|Harming others to benefit oneself||Body dismemberment|
Ninth Court of Hell – Yama: King Pingdeng
|Robbery||Head and arms chopped off|
|Any other unlawful conduct|
|Neglect of the old and young||Crushed under boulders|
Tenth Court of Hell – Yama: King Zhuanlun
In the Tenth Court, there is a ‘Wheel of Reincarnation’ and the ‘Pavilion of Forgetfulness’ (Men-Po Pavilion).
After serving their sentences, prisoners arrive at the Tenth Court where King Zhuanlun passes final judgement. The prisoners are then brought to the ‘Pavilion of Forgetfulness’ where an old lady “Men Po” hands them a cup of magic tea which on drinking makes them forget their past lives.
They will then go through the ‘Wheel of Reincarnation’ – Samsara. Depending on the prisoner’s past life, they would be reborn either as a human or an animal. Some would be reborn into a life of ease and comfort while others into sorrow and suffering.
With the morbid side of it aside, I found this exceptionally interesting! My lesson has been learned – I will not be misusing books, or cheating during examinations any time soon!
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Have you ever been to a cultural centre that depicted such graphic figures to get a message across? Have you been a good citizen and not ‘misused books’? When faced with the mirror of truth – will you appear pure or evil in your reflection?