7 December 2010

The Forgotten Tombs of Upper Pierce

In November 2010, forgotten tombs were discovered in the wild during a joint-exploration trip conducted by Andrew from the One° North Explorers and Charles & Raymond from API. A second trip was made with a reporter, Ms. Kaili, from the Shin Min Daily News, where additional tombs were discovered.

福 tablet, likely to represent 福德土地 (Luck and Virtuous Earth) / 土地公 (Earth God)

Thick vegetation

The Discovery of Century-Old Tombs in Upper Pierce
[Shin Min Daily News - 28th Nov 2010]

Transliteration of original newspaper report in Chinese done by KL Lai | Photos by Andrew

5 ancient Chinese tombs, all of which are more than a century old, were recently discovered in the forests of Upper Pierce Reservoir, among them a tomb where a couple were buried together. The existence of these tombs, which were erected during the rule of Emperor Guangxu (whose reign lasted from 1875 to 1908 on official records) as indicated on their inscriptions, are believed to be previously unknown to the public prior to their discovery.

This enthralling find was stumbled upon 2 weeks ago by Charles Goh, the founder of the Asia Paranormal Investigators, together with his brother and co-founder, Raymond Goh, and Andrew from the One° North Explorers when they were out exploring in that area. They led this reporter by foot along a big canal, up a steep slope deep into the forest before they crossed a small stream and climbed up a small hill to finally arrive at the site.

One of the tombs found

Chalk made the lettering obvious

The tombs were located close to one another and three of these tombs had two names inscribed on their headstones, which are believed to belong to husbands & wives being buried together. According to the inscriptions, the oldest tomb was erected in 1897, and the words "Rebuilt" on this headstone indicated that this was a refurbished tomb, leading us to believe that the person in the tomb had died much earlier than that.

A tombstone nearby also indicated that the person passed away in 1899 & that he bears the same surname as the oldest one. However, it is unknown as to whether these 2 people are related or not. According to Charles, there were no signs of any offerings when the tombs were found, and judging by the unkempt state of the tombs, it is believed that no one knew of these tombs.

Raymond rubbing chalk on one of the headstones

After some research done by the trio who discovered the tombs, they found out this plot of land used to be part of a large plantation which belonged to a local wealthy man, Tan Tye. Born in Tung An, Fujian province, he was one of Singapore's most successful pioneers and his famous Hin Choon & Co and Istana brands of preserved pineapples were widely exported to Shanghai, Hong Kong and even to England and America, earning him the nickname Pineapple King. Tan Tye passed away on July 22nd 1898, at the age of 59.

Editor's Note: Apart from his big pineapple plantation located at the Yishun / Upper Thomson areas, he also set up a sawmill for timber trading at Clarke Quay where another one of our pioneers, Lim Nee Soon, used to be an employee. That is why there is a short and narrow one-way street at Clarke Quay called Tan Tye Place. There was also a creek near River Valley Road which was named after him but it disappeared in the late 1800s.

One of numerous spiders in the thick undergrowth

The ones buried in these tombs are believed to be the workers who used to work in the plantation. Charles also pointed out that with reference to some historical info, workers in the plantation would be rewarded with some forms of welfare for their sweat and toil, including burial in the plantation. Therefore, their descendants could choose a burial ground near the plantation with good feng-shui to bury them. To substantiate this theory, Charles believes that the finding of the tombs at 5m above ground level matches the information above.

Original News Report from the Shin Min Daily News:
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5203/5238701272_f7aa3388d9_b.jpg [Scanned Copy]

Article transliterated by KL Lai and Aaron Chan | Photos copyright of Andrew Him

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