Where Gods Are Born
Amid the skyscrapers in cosmopolitan Singapore, there is a quiet shop, filled from floor to ceiling with statues of Taoist deities, some the size of iPhones, some the size of a chair. Say Tian Hng Buddha Shop (translated as Heavenly Garden) has made, sold and repaired Taoist idols for 123 years. The shop is now the last surviving one in Singapore.
Ng Tian Sang
(1923 - 2012)
Tan Chwee Lian
(Wife of Ng Tian Sang)
Ng Yeow Hua
What we’ll do
We will go behind-the-scenes to learn the stories of these deities. Who were these ancient heroes? Who is the boy wonder who rides on Wind Fire Wheels? Who is the butcher turned saint? Who is the sabre-wielding warlord worshipped by cops and crooks alike?
We will also learn about the dying craft of effigy-making, one that uses secret blueprints, sandalwood ash dough, marble slabs, Thai gold leaves, bamboo sticks and wood from the camphor tree that grows to 1,000 years old. Some of you can even get your hands dirty if there is time. As we are a very small family business, we don't usually take visitors so this tour will be a rare experience.
Guests ages 10 and up can attend. Tickets cost SG$48 per person (adult or child).
"Excellent tour experience and a truly living heritage. Really moving to see traditions carrying on for over 100 years and over 4 generations."
- Dr Chua Ai Lin, former President of the Singapore Heritage Society
"I’m a 3rd generation Singapore- Chinese… this tour changed my perspective on my ‘ancestral’ beliefs. It brought colour to the unthinkable hardships that early immigrants faced making the arduous journey to Singapore and the subsequent toil to start a new life in this foreign land.”
- Natalie, Singapore
“It is a refreshingly delightful cultural experience… it will gift you with an opportunity to enrich your life and warm your soul. Singapore is rightfully renowned for its food culture, but this is a meaningful cultural experience not to be missed.”
- John, California
“Despite the subject matter being religious-related, the session itself did not focus so much on the religious aspects. Instead, the focus was on history, tradition and - of course - craftsmanship! This is a tour I would highly recommend to anyone interested in hearing stories of a lesser-known part of Singapore history.”
- Limonium, Singapore
"This experience will always be memorable because of the history and culture that was shared over many generations, imparting values and lessons that we can never learn from mainstream text.”
- Esther, Singapore
“I never knew we still retain this rich history on our fast modernizing island. The setting is in a working craftsman’s shop. You meet the matriarch who shares her background and experiences. Her grandsons explain in English which makes understanding it much easier. I would recommend this to any foreigner looking for a hand on genuine experience of our past and to all locals, you must know this!”
- Ju-Ann, Singapore
35 Neil Road Singapore 088821
+65 6221 1042
Opening hours:10am to 9pm every day
* As we are a small family-run business, our opening hours may vary slightly.