Riddle Me a Tomb


夹马异香 A Riddle From a Tomb At Bukit Brown

Contributed by Wang Cheng Min

While searching for the  biggest grave at Bukit Brown, I chanced upon this grave,  drawn to its  unusual mirror- like stand .

Does it represent a mirror? (location Blk 1 near Group 4)

I could not fathom the significance of the structure.  And moved on to look for clues in the 2 pillars which flanked the tombstone and was stuck by the only two characters on each of the pillars.

夹马 - (squeeze the horse with your calves)

The pillar on the left read 夹马 (squeeze the horse with your calves).

异香 (extraordinary fragrance)

The pillar one on the right read异香 (extraordinary fragrance). I was wondering why 夹马异香 was used. It appeared to me that this could well be a riddle. But it had become far too hot to decipher what it means at Bukit Brown.

I studied the photographs of the pillars at home and came up with this answer:

走 (walk) is the answer for 夹马 (squeeze the horse with your calves to move the horse forward)

异香 (extraordinary fragrance) is from 八月放异香 – a riddle which 桂花is the answer. There is a classic song called  “八月桂花遍地香” – ” August is the month for full boom of Osmanthus.” I therefore deduced that 八月 is the answer for异香.

Buy some good 桂花 tea to experience the unique fragrance of 桂花.

When I put 走 and 八月 together, it is 赵. 赵 – Zhao (Hanyu Pinyin) –  the surname of the deceased’s husband.

The solution to the riddle


The riddle夹马异香solved at last!

But the mirror, eludes me.

Editor’s postscript: A few days hours after  Cheng Min posed his riddle on the facebook group  he got word from a tomb keeper that clocks were once embedded in such mirror structures . But not this one; the mystery continues,  tick tock tick tock tick tock

About Cheng Min: he loves reading ancient Chinese literature including books by Taiwanese Master Nam Huai Jin (南怀谨老师).