Chew Joo Chiat 周如切 is my great grand-father. My family tree in Singapore begins with him. The purpose of this blog is for my children and grand children to know their root's humble beginning. Secondly, there are inaccuracies and gaps I discovered published in books, articles and websites about Chew Joo Chiat. I also want to talk about some lost landmarks in Joo Chiat.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Joo Chiat Changing Scene 5
Site map of the wayang (opera) stage and the Chinese temple at Joo Chiat Place
Last week I took a walk down memory lane to see the changing scenes. At Joo Chiat Place opposite Kim Choo Bak Chang shop there was a permanent wayang (opera) stage of timber and brick with tiled roofing. Its back was towards the road and the front was facing a Chinese temple. The original owner of the two builidings was Chew Joo Chiat's son, Chew Cheng Swee. The wayang or 'teochew hi' (Chinese opera) was performed during the birthday of the gods in the temple and also on certain Chinese festivals. The most popular opera troupes then were the 'lau sai toh' and the 'sar chiak soon'. I understand both had been disbanded some time ago due to poor patronage. The present generations prefer 'ker tai' (singing troupe).
Sugar Art Gold Fish Photo from Samm's blog post
Dough FigurinesPhoto from Samm's blog post
During school days I went to the Chinese wayang not to see the performance but to mingle with other kids watching Chinese artists making sugar art figurines and dough art figurines. For sugar art figurines, moulds were used to make the required shapes like gold fish, rabbit etc. As for dough art figurines no mould was needed. The artist made characters from Chinese stories such as Journey To The West, The Three Kingdoms as well as animals. They were very colourful too. The cheapest one was the figurine of a cockerel because it was the easiest and fastest to make. The sugar figurines were edible. The usual way was to lick it like an ice cream. It could not be kept as it would melt or attract ants and insects. The dough figurine was not edible and also could not be kept too long. When the dough dried up the figurine became brittle and pieces of dough dropped off. It became mouldy very fast.
Actual architectural drawing of the wayang stage
Acual architectural drawing of the Chinese temple
The wayang stage has been replaced by an apartment building block with shops on the ground floor. Joo Chiat Gospel Hall has replaced the Chinese temple.
Apartments block with shops on the ground floor The site was formerly occupied by a Chinese wayang stage
Joo Chiat Gospel Hall The site was originally a Chinese temple
Another such wayang stage was opposite No 65 Joo Chiat Road where Chew Joo Chiat had his residence. The wayang stage was built by him so that he and his family members could watch the 'teochew hi' (Chinese opera) performance from the third level front balcony. His residence is now an empty field. The wayang stage site is now occupied by a block of shophouses as shown the picture below.
The green field was the site ofChew Joo Chiat'sresidenceand across the road, theshophouses behind the street signboard was the site of the wayang (opera) stage