By Claire Leow
This is the final resting place of Dolly Tan, with Japanese inscriptions on the headstone, pronouncing her name in Japanese. The names of two Japanese friends featured on the bottom left of the photo.
Below the altar is the English inscriptions.
This tomb is in Hill 2.
Bukit Brown – a rich tapestry of Singapore’s place in the crossroads of history.
Gem from Bukit Brown discovered by Raymond Goh:
Probably one of the earliest Qing dynasty titles, a student of the highest scholastic department during Emperor Daoquang’s (道光) reign, in 1848
An Open Letter by Tay Koh Yat’s great grand-daughter
(as received by email to the blog)
A flurry of communications were sent across the Pacific last week as news excitedly spread from the furthest extensions of my family tree that a documentary on Bukit Brown was being aired on Singapore TV and that Tay Koh Yat had been featured. After a few minutes of perusing articles written on this man, I came across a piece written by my own sister, and I was inspired to do the same. My name is Kristie. Jaimie is my sister, and Tay Koh Yat is my great-grandfather.
I had seen his photo hung proudly in my grandparents’ house, but I didn’t know very much about this man – not even his name. The shape of my eyes and the shape of one of my cousin’s eyes are so exactly the same (yet so unlike anyone else’s in our immediate families’) – tapered at the ends like falling teardrops – that people often thought we were siblings. It wasn’t until I looked more closely at that photo in my grandparents’ house that I realised that we had inherited our eyes from him.
I knew that my great-grandfather was an entrepreneur. An extremely successful one at that. As my sister says in her article, my mother vividly remembers being recognised regularly as his descendant, but she always assumed it was due to that entrepreneurial success. It wasn’t until March 2012, when the articles that my sister cites (“The Fall of Singapore – 15th February 1942” and “Even when your soul descends into hell, still it is not enough to atone for your sins”) were referred to us across the Pacific, that we came to know more about this man – and if he was truly everything those articles described, how I wish I had been alive to meet him.
My teenage years were fraught with ‘typical’ angst, a lot of rebellion and an absolute, unwavering, passionate belief that every battle in life must be fought purely to achieve what is right and just – a belief that often used to, and still does, get me into trouble. In later years, reflecting on the fact that such forceful passion also made me extremely stubborn, I wrote to my late grandfather, son of Tay Koh Yat, asking whether, to his knowledge, there was any other family member who had outspoken personality traits like mine. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away some months later, and my question went unanswered. After many a detour, I went on to become a lawyer – an achievement that I had never deliberately set out to do, but one that I was surprised to find suited me extremely well. It wasn’t until I read the above articles that I felt I had finally found an explanation. My own great-grandfather is denoted as being feisty, patriotic, daring and, by all accounts – in leading a civilian army of 20,000 people, organising a rescue team for the injured, seeking compensation for the widows and children of fallen soldiers, forming the Singapore Chinese Appeal Committee, and then, at age 70, daring to single-handedly confront arsonists amidst the 1950s riots – a man who truly believed in standing up for what is right throughout his life. Perhaps more importantly then, I had also found very real inspiration in the evidence that stubborn determination to ensure what is just, a belief that regularly made me unpopular, could be applied to achieve truly incredible feats of justice and humanity.
It is with very real sadness that I read that the proposal to construct the highway through the cemetery will proceed. Since I do not pretend to know the intimate nature or complexities of Singapore’s growing population, increasing congestion and increasingly short supply of land, my sentiments are not at all political but, instead, emotional.
All around the world, countries mark the World Wars with memorials, remembrance sites, and museums. Here in Australia, we have not only a national day, ANZAC Day, but dozens of monuments, memorials and a long-standing museum in our nation’s capital dedicated to our war heroes. China, Japan and Hawaii are some of the places I have visited that have similarly erected museums and preserved key war sites with great pride, solemnity and reverence. Places like Vietnam, Cambodia and provinces throughout China even maintain museums, prisons and other sites to record and inform the public of their domestic conflicts. Just as importantly, these sites serve to educate – not only on the historical facts, but as a lesson to future generations of the atrocities and consequences of war. I recently asked my cousins whether there is a dedicated war museum in Singapore. There is not. Whatever the political position on the excavation of Bukit Brown, it is my fervent hope that every historical tombstone and artefact, particularly those of the pioneers and war heroes, would be carefully preserved for the discovery and education of the many generations to come – not just in Singapore, but the world over. If an economic incentive is needed, consider for a moment that that tourism is an increasing contributor to Singapore’s GDP and that many people around the world, particularly those in my parents’ generation, may be just as compelled to visit Bukit Brown (or a related museum) as they are to visit Sentosa or the Jurong Bird Park. I certainly would be.
I understand from comments made on my sister’s article that, at this stage, the proposal does not include my great-grandfather’s tomb – and for that, we are very grateful. However, it occurs to me that our happy family story would not coincide with the families of those whose ancestral graves are at risk of being exhumed (without regard to the preservation of any artefacts, as far as I am aware) in the course of such a construction project. As such, I am deeply saddened by the idea that other families, whose branches may similarly extend around the world, may never come to learn of the incredible heroes or pioneers that lie at the base of their own tree.
In Australia, on ANZAC Day, the Ode of Remembrance is traditionally read. Although I am Australian, and very proudly so, it is perhaps not until my discovery of Bukit Brown and my great-grandfather’s tremendous contribution to freedom and justice during and after the war that the words held such resonance with me. And as Bukit Brown was in fact a battlefield, it feels extremely apt to recite it in closing:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
Kristie lives in Sydney, Australia. She is the great-grandaughter of war hero and pioneer Tay Koh Yat
By Raymond Goh:
Sng Choo Sian was the founder and first president of the Foochow Association. His tomb used to be a landmark of Lao Sua (in Greater Bukit Brown) due to the two pillars, now almost hidden by the forest. His tomb has not been attended in more than 40 years. His granddaughter married the eldest son of See Teong Wah, buried in Hill 2.
Looking forward to unveiling this grand tomb with the help of tombkeeper Soh (seen here).
Note the calendar dating system: Tian Yun, loosely translated as the will of heaven.
From Ee Hoon:
孙仲玉父亲孙子善（Sun Choo Sian)，
■住在大门内（63, Club Street)。
■他也是福州会馆发起人与首任总理(founder and Chairman of Foochow Association)
■育有三子仲玉、叔玉(Soo Geok)和佩玉(Puay Geok)。
The Wayang in the Tombs (2)
by Ang Yik Han
The Wayang in the Tombs 1 continues, as Yik Han unravels more iconic scenes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and other popular stories.
“Temple of Sweet Dew” (Gan Lu Si – 甘露寺)
Zhou Yu, Sun Quan’s viceroy, wanted to lure Liu Bei over to the kingdom of Wu and then incarcerate him, on the pretext of marrying Sun Quan’s younger sister to him. Liu Bei’s advisor, Zhuge Liang, saw through this and ordered Zhao Yun, one of Liu Bei’s generals, to accompany him for protection. At the same time, he sent word to Sun Quan’s father-in-law to get Sun Quan’s mother along so that she can view her prospective son-in-law at the Temple of Sweet Dew. With the old lady around, Zhou Yu’s mischief came to naught and Liu Bei and his lady successfully got hitched.
Bowing man on left is Liu Bei, seated lady in the centre is Sun Quan’s mother, man on the right is probably Sun Quan’s father-in-law.
Editors note: An insight on how Yik Han deciphered this panel.
“The costumes especially the head dress are clues. If you look at what the man on the left is wearing, you can tell he is not just another official. For some tine I thought the figure in the middle is a male till I looked more closely at her headdress which is what you will expect a more senior lady of high social status to wear. Put these two together and you have a high ranking older male, probably some lord, paying respects to an old woman also of high social status. All the other identified panels from this tomb are based on the Three Kingdoms, and there is one famous part of the novel which has this setting, so that’s how I identified the scene. If you area Chinese opera fan, you may also recognise it easily.”
Here’s an animated excerpt from the opera
Lui Bei’s Farewell to Xu Shu
Compared to his warlord contemporaries, Liu Bei was handicapped by the lack of an able advisor. Fortunately for him, a brilliant strategist named Xu Shu joined him and helped him achieve some small victories. Just when things seemed to be going well for Liu Bei, his rival Cao Cao found out about this and he managed to get someone to send a forged letter to Xu Shu, purportedly from Xu Shu’s mother. The letter claimed she was in Cao Cao’s custody and her life was in danger unless Xu Shu abandon Liu Bei and join Cao Cao’s camp. The filial Xu Shu had no choice but to obey and the inevitable farewell came. On the day Xu Shu left, Liu Bei saw him off with his retainers and followed behind him for part of his journey. Upon reaching a forest, Liu Bei exclaimed “I want this forest to be cut down!” When his retainers asked him why, Liu Bei replied that this was because the trees blocked his view of the departing Xu Shu.
Here’s an opera you can view on the sending off.
The panels are from the tombs of the Teo Family located in Hill 2
The Third Madam teaches her son (三娘教子)
During the Ming Dynasty, there was a businessman by the name of Xue Guang who had a wife Mdm Zhang and two concubines, Mdm Liu (who bore him his only son Xue Yi) and Mdm Wang. Xue Guang conducted his business far from home. One day, he asked a man from his hometown to deliver five hundred taels of silver to his family. Instead of doing so, the man took the silver for himself and told the Xue family that Xue Guang had died. As they believed the report to be true and there were no news from Xue Guang, Mdm Zhang and Mdm Liu remarried after some time due to the family’s slide into poverty.
Only Mdm Wang chose to remain and take care of Xue Yi even though he was not her flesh and blood, together with an old servant Xue Bao. She weaved cloth to support Xue Yi through school. Xue Yi was however mocked by other children in school as the boy without a mother. Losing his temper, he took it out on Mdm Wang when he got home, saying that she had no right to punish him as she was not his mother. In fury, she slashed the cloth on her loom into two, signifying the serverance of their relationship, shocking Xue Yi and Xue Bao who hurriedly interceded on his young master’s behalf. Xue Yi came to his senses and promised to apply himself to his studies diligently, and even offered the cane to Mdm Wang to punish himself. In years to come, Xue Yi gained honours in the imperial examinations.
A movie based on the opera can be found here
Since we started tours, we would often pass these Tok tombs and point out the extraordinary size and the unusual portraits as well as the large benches. The tomb shore also featured lovely tiles. All we know from the inscriptions was how Oon Tuan Cheng outlived her husband Tok Cheng Tuan for 24 years after he passed away at age 38. Little else was known – until the descendants contacted us and over several hours one night, told us the extraordinary story of their grandparents. We were scribbling on paper napkins, used envelopes, anything we could get our hands on. We forgot to order drinks or dinner and the waiter had to remind us to order something. Both storytellers and listeners were all so entranced by the re-telling of two lives. We are very moved to read this memoir and share them with you. What we gleaned was the longer and tragic life of the wife, Oon Tuan Cheng.
TOK CHENG TUAN & OON TUAN CHENG
(as remembered by their granddaughter, A. Tok)
I was born in California. My parents were born in Singapore. My mother’s parents were Tok Cheng Tuan and Oon Tuan Cheng. They are buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery, Blk. II, Div. D. Tok died at age 38 on May 6, 1927 while his wife Oon outlived him and grieved for him for 24 years, before passing away on Sept. 28, 1951 at age 61.
I never met my grandparents. But when I visit Singapore with my husband and daughter, we go to Bukit Brown Cemetery to pay our respects. Since my parents are no longer living, what little I know of my mother’s parents is from what my mother told me about them and what some other relatives told me…memories.
I can tell my mother (Tok Kim Lian) was sad to never know her father, who died when she was less than six months old. As best to my recollection, she would often say to me and other close friends, “I was only six months old when my father died”. He worked for the Anglo-French Trading Co. as a storekeeper, but died aged just 38. His widow had to raise a family of 2 sons and 4 daughters. But that was not the end of her sorrows…
War Losses… and my parents’ marriage
My mother’s sadness was deepened because of World War II during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore from 1942-1945. Her two older brothers Kim Choon and Kim Seng were taken by the Japanese, never to return home. She would often tell anyone, about her two brothers’ fate. During the war, the Japanese targeted Chinese men in the Sook Ching massacre though it was never known if the brothers suffered that fate.
(I found these old photos and can only guess these are grandma Oon’s sons as the photos take pride of place on the first page of one of her albums. The photo on the right, features the wedding of the elder son, Kim Choon, with his bride Nona. The photo on the left shows the younger son, Kim Seng, who was engaged to be married to Peggy. But he was taken by the Japanese before they got married. My mother Kim Lian was the youngest child.)
Nonetheless, this tragic turn had an unexpected outcome. My father was good friends with the two brothers before they were taken away. He had long considered grandma Oon as his “mother” having lost his own mother at a young age. He went to America twice before WWII. The second time was in the 1930′s. When America entered WWII, he volunteered (even though he was a Singapore citizen) to fight for America from 1942-1945! After WWII ended, grandma Oon asked him to come home from America to marry my mother, Tok Kim Lian. As a result, today, I am able to retell this extraordinary story of those 2 generations.
The war had also taken its toll on grandmother as you can tell from the 1947 photo below. She is in the middle and my mother Kim Lian is on grandma Oon’s right. (The little girl is her niece, daughter of her sister-in-law, seated on grandma’s left.)
When grandfather Tok died, he left grandmother Oon, according to my mother, with many houses in Singapore. In Katong, there was a house on Ceylon Road, another one in Opera Estate, another one was on the beach where the sea wall surrounded it in Marine Parade…My mother remembered seeing two horseshoe crabs mating in the water.
Yet Another Loss…
After her father,Tok Cheng Tuan, died, and when my mother was old enough, one of her domestic responsibilities was to make sure she toasted the bread for her mother, Oon Tuan Cheng, over charcoal to a nice color on both sides. Before dinner, the windows facing the water in the house near the sea needed to be closed. This house had three staircases. The men had their dinner first, and then the women and children. My mother also helped take care of her relatives. Her responsibilities swelled when her oldest sister, Kim Luan, passed away sometime after the last of her seven children were born. In short, grandma Oon had lost another child, her oldest daughter.
My mother would play and sing to the brood of children. Another responsibility of my mother was to roll a piece of opium into a nice round shape to put in the opium pipe for my grandmother. Memories…
Grandmother Oon took care of her family as best she could. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, she had to sell some of her jewelry to buy one chicken on the “lobang”, namely on the black market. When people borrowed money from her, though, for instance, to try to make toothpaste, she didn’t know how to ask for it back. She was excellent at crocheting beautiful and delicate looking tablecloths. She would sit in a big chair for hours and crochet.
Even though I never met my grandparents, I do love them and wish that I could have met and lived with them. That is why I visit them at Bukit Brown Cemetery when I come to Singapore.
Below is what the tombs look like today in this wide-angled shot showing the two large benches out of range in the older photo above. The large portraits are weather-worn, and are from the photographs at the top of this post.
Singapore, please preserve and protect Bukit Brown Cemetery forever! Thank you! - (A. Tok)
Editor’s note: Of note on the tombs are the 4 tomb panels of the Four Loves.
This story has a bittersweet ending. The Peranakan Museum has accepted the donation of the tombs and benches as Tok and his wife’s remains are to be exhumed for the proposed highway. As reluctant as the family is to exhume, they are even more reluctant for this last, visceral remains of their memory to be destroyed. The family approached all things Bukit Brown to help save the tombs, honour their memory, and has kindly planned to build a path to these tombs for the last few months of tours that more may know of the extraordinary lives of two individuals last century. Look out for tours incorporating these tombs on our Group 2 walks .
The loss of the two brothers remind us of the cruelty of war, and though we would never know their fate, we remember those taken by the Sook Ching massacre. Lest we forget. Those who helped finance the Chinese against the invading Japanese army were on Japan’s Most Wanted list, including Tay Koh Yat and Wong Chin Yoke, both interred at Bukit Brown. Grandma Oon’s “adoption” of the sons’ good friend and request for marriage with her daughter led to the birth of the author, A. Tok. Those were the realities of a post-war era, a time of loss and healing.
The tombs of Tok Cheng Tuan and Oon Tuan Cheng are pegged 1947 and 1948, meaning these are the exhumation markers. You can find them using this map. They can be found using the Group 2 DIY guide. Or join our public tours.
The author’s cousin Tony helped me to check some facts and added, “We look forward to your blog telling the story of grandma and grandpa with the aim of moving people to saving Bukit Brown. That the people buried there were real people who built our SIngapore and their decendants are still around.”
We have since learnt that grandma Oon’s parents may be buried behind them, and here another tale begins, as a third descendent has stepped forward to continue the research to tie up loose ends. And so, the roots grow, and the tree continues to bear fruit.
(Edited and compiled by Claire Leow)
Related Posts on descendants searching their family tree:
A Grandson Remembers - Norman Cho recounts tracing his roots
Serendipity – Serene Tan recounts tracing her roots
Teo Hoo Lye: Woven Threads – two descendants’ paths converge in their search for their forefather
* Do you have a story to chase? Are you looking for your ancestors at Bukit Brown? Let us know your story so more may be aware of the value of this historical archive.
Heritage Guides: Victor Lim, with Fabian Tee, Sugen Ramiah. Meanwhile the Nature Society also drew the crowds, as their bird experts were on hand to spot the birds.
One highlight was when Taoist Master Lee Zhi Wang (李至旺) paid respects to Mr and Mrs Ang Choon Seng. According to Master Lee, Mr Ang Choon Seng is a very important person for Qing De Hui (庆德会), or Keng Teck Huay, a mutual aid organization. His tomb was only recently cleaned up, thanks to donations raised after Brownies guided Friends of the Museum (post here) to raise awareness of the pioneers of Simgapore at Bukit Brown, and the generous donation of one in the Bukit Brown community who has requested for anonymity.
Here’s what Raymond has discovered about Ang Choon Seng:
Ang Choon Seng was born in 1805 in Malacca. In Singapore, he set up Chop Chin Seng in Philip St. He had 2 sailing ships Patah Salam and Kong-Kek, travelling between Saigon and Bangkok. He also had nutmeg plantations in Moulmein Road. He was one of the 36 founding members of the mutual aid association called Kheng Teck Whay.
The band of 36 men were businessmen from Malacca who came to Singapore in the early days when Singapore was just founded.
This group of 36 young Hokkien Chinese baba traders, in their early 20 and 30s, from middle- to upper-income families most in Malacca, came to seek their fortune in this new city. Although they came from well-to-do families, business at that time was still considered risky. They had alliances with the Europeans, and can take goods on credit with them, but depending on the business situation, they will have to pay the Europeans with equivalent goods or cash in a few months. Sometimes if the goods cannot be sold within this period, they would have to auction off or “lelong” the goods, resulting in financial problems for them, hence the need to form such a mutual aid association.
Each of the 36 would have to contribute 100 big dollars to the Association fund, which will be used as seed money for the businessman’s families. If a member would unfortunately passed away or fall into financial difficulties, then this mutual help group would help the family. Many of the 36 members did well in later life and had successful businesses. Such was the enterprising spirit of our pioneers!
Upon finding Ang Choon Seng’s tomb in Bukit Brown, the volunteers called Brownies decided to raise funds to clear the tomb for others to visit and hear of this pioneering tale.
The area is very rich in birdlife with 91 species (resident & migratory) recorded so far. Among them are 13 nationally threatened species listed in The Singapore Red Data Book (RDB, 2008). This constitutes 23 % of the 56 of bird species listed there, and makes it a very important wildlife habitat. For some bird photos, look under HABITAT: FAUNA.
(Source: the Nature Society’s position paper on Bukit Brown)
If you haven’t visited Bukit Brown, check out our public tours on our events page. We endeavour to share as many stories of our pioneers as we can uncover. We are a group of volunteers who bush-bash to look for the tombs of pioneers and research to find out more. Come join us! Bukit Brown: Heritage. Habitat. History.
Zaobao News Dec 17, 2012
Seeking pupils of Gongshan Primary School cohort 1959 – 1964 for grand reunion.If you were a pupil then, please contact your classmates, phone numbers available at Zaobao.
学毕业的六年级子班师生，在欧南路旧校舍梯阶前拍摄的毕 业纪念照。至今尚有联络的当年几名毕业生，想找回195 9年一子班到1964年六子班的同窗和老师，下月举办共 庆离校50周年团聚会。
The land in York Hill, Outram Road was brought from Tan Kwee Wah, a descendant of Tan Kim Ching (grandfather) and Tan Tock Seng (great grandfather) at a discounted price of $11,000 because it was for a school. An interesting thing to note is Tan Kwee Wah and Lim Chek Yong are buried in Bukit Brown, while Tan Tock Seng and Chua Seah Neo (Tan Kim Ching’s wife) and Wuing Yi Ho (Tan Kim Ching’s daughter-in-law/Tan Soon Toh’s wife) are buried at the slopes of York Hill.
Death of the “Father of Gongshang”
Lim Chek Yong died on 1948 and is buried in Hill 4 Section C, plot 1584.
Today, 27 descendants of Teochew pioneer Seah Eu Chin went to Grave Hill in Toa Payoh to visit the clan patriarch. Amazingly, after the event, we realised today is the 129th anniversary of his burial.
Watch the Facebook video of the families taking turns to pay their respects.
The inscription shows 2 wives, sisters from the same hometown. Some relatives meet each other for the first time and share notes. Some are unaware Seah had 2 wives.
After the relatives left, the Brownies did some exploring.
His earth deity is more than 30 metres away and took some exploring to be located:
Hoping to help researchers and descendants, Mok Ly Ying steps in with his mapping skills:
This is what Ly Ying had done previously:
In post-event fun, Brownies celebrated the find with Raymond:
Sadly, on our way out, we encountered soil investigation drills, indicating the start of the project to build the North-South Highway. We hope Seah Eu Chin will still be able to rest in peace in the future…
Comments from relatives today:
Grace Seah Heartfelt thanks to all the fabulous brownies for giving up your Saturday morning for the Seah descendants. Lovely to meet everyone today. We will bring this wonderful memory back to Perth to share with our boys
Irene Seah Today is an incredibly awesome day for the Seah descendants who made it to Seah Eu Chin’s tomb. All thanks to the wonderful brownies who made this possible. We even met extended family members for the first time! This means so much to us. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. *HUGS*
SK Seah Thank you everybody for making this visit possible.
Two weeks ago, the tour guides called Brownies visited this grave nestled in the thick undergrowth. Her moving story was told and donations raised to clear the tomb. We reveal here its glory. What intricate carvings for a young and delicate life lost too soon.
Did she die of grief? There is the story of this young lady, Tan Keng Lee, who died aged 26 in what the judge F. G. Bourne ruled to be suicide, possibly due to depression. She was found unconscious on 1 August, 1933 at her father’s graveside in Bukit Brown. Her father was Tan Tiong Seng:
Her father, Tan Tiong Seng, was a general manager of Oversea-Chinese Bank before he passed away in September 1930, says Raymond Goh. He and his wife Lim Kee Neo are buried at Blk 3 Sec D 811/828/971. The lady had been depressed after her father’s death, and was taken to China by her mother for a change of scenery, the Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser reported on 17 August. Prior to her untimely death, she was betrothed and appeared to be in better spirits, the report said. Nonetheless, she fell ill and her wedding was delayed while her fiance went on a business trip to China.
On that fateful morning, she asked to be driven to Bukit Brown and did not appear at the appointed place to be picked up by her driver, who went on to pick up her siblings from school. The tomb keeper for Mr Tan, Samat bin Haji Abdullah, said she came to him feeling giddy, lay down and never woke again. She died on 4 August. An autopsy revealed an overdose from adalin, a sleep-inducing drug. As this was the second time of adalin overdose, judge Bourne ruled suicide to be the cause of death, the Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser said.
Raymond found this grave, and with donations from tour participants, the tomb has been cleared to show a beautiful final resting place, with inscriptions of lamentations from grieving relatives. Ms Tan lies at Blk 3 Sec D, 974/ 991.
Besides this tragic tale of a life cut short, the report confirms Malays were among the tombkeepers of Bukit Brown. Read this moving article on the role of tombkeepers in those days till present.
The tombkeepers continue to work the ground. See here a post on how they helped unveil the tomb of Lee Kim Soo.
We thank all tour participants for contributing to the clean-up. While public tours are free, tour participants sometimes make donations to help the Brownies conduct tours to new tombs as they research the interesting real-life stories of those who lived in eras past.
Here’s a glimpse of the lovely carvings on her father’s tomb:
Yik Han says this panel could mean 富贵白头 (fu gui bai tou) – prosperity and a lasting union. The flowers look like peonies (prosperity) while the birds could be chinese bulbuls (白头翁) which sport a distinctive white patch on their heads. 白头 (bai tou) or “white head” is part of a felicitous phrase used at weddings “白头到老” (literally “till the white hairs of old age”) to wish the couple a lasting union. That’s why there are two chinese bulbuls here gazing at one another. The animal in the centre may be a leopard.
And here’s one of her lovely tomb panels:
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Events are posted here every week.