Friday, December 06, 2019

Memorial Plaque for Tan Hiang Guat Neo (Lao Sua)

With the recent cleaning and restoration works of Chua Soon Leong's family cluster of tombs which includes; Chua Soon Leong (died 2 Sep 1920 age 48), his wife; Tan Hiang Guat Neo (died 10 July 1910 age 35) , his infant son; Chua Eng Sim (died 18 Mar 1913 age 102 days) and finally Chua Soon Leong's parents;Chua Cheng Swee (died 1891) and Ee Kim Neo (died 30 Nov 1908 age 68) a number of unique discoveries were made. This article features 1 of this discovery, which is a memorial plaque erected by Chua Soon Leong for his recently deceased wife or to be exact 16 days after the death of Madam Tan Hiang Guat Neo. The Memorial plaque was once hidden behind a fallen tree trunk which broke the marble to several pieces but fortunately it was restored and put together by the tombkeeper tasked by the descendant in the clean-up. What impressed me was the tombkeeper, Soh Ah Beng is not able to read English but has done a magnificent job piecing all the marble pieces together so that we are able to once again read the lovely dedication of the memorial plaque as it was from 1911, over 100 years ago. 
Memorial plaque dedicated to Madam Tan Hiang Guat Neo 

IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE WIFE (MADAM 
TAN HIANG GUAT NEO) AND IN SPECIAL HONOR 
FOR HER FRUGALITY, PERSERVANCE, 
CHASTITY, PIETY, INDUSTRY, OBEDIENCE, 
AMITY, THRIFT, WISDOM, GOOD NATURE, 
MANNER AND BEHAVIOUR WHICH WERE HER VERY 
GRAND PECULIARITIES DURING HER LIFETIME, 
I HAVE MADE A PAIR OF STONE KEE LIN 
OR THE MONARCHS OF LIONS AND SET ON THE
RIGHT AND LEFT HAND OF HER GRAVE THESE MONUMENTS ARE TO TESTIFY MY
SINCERE AND TRUE LOVE & AFFECTION AS WELL AS A SIGN OF GREAT DISTINCTION
WHICH I DEEM HER FOR 17 YEARS PAST SHE DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON SUNDAY THE
TENTH OF JULY 1910 AT 6 A.M. AGED 35
WITH DEEP SORROW & TEARFUL EYES I
WRITE OF HER PAST DEEDS FOR POSTERITY
ERECTED ON THE 26TH JANUARY 1911 4 PM
MY AGE 38 SENG HOCK'S 16, SENG NEO'S 14 ENG BHE'S 2 MONTHS WHEN SHE DIED
CHUA SOON LEONG

Unique tomb mound covered with bricks 
The cleaning of the tomb also reveals, a unique tomb mound that unlike other tomb mounds were the soil is exposed, the tomb mound for Madam Tan Hiang Guat Neo is fully covered with bricks. It reminds me of a turtle shell. My guess it is more symbolic of that to mean longevity for the descendants.



Earth deity of Tan Hiang Guat Neo 

I leave you with some pictures from the courtyard of Madam Tan Hiang Guat Neo's tomb after the clearing. It is indeed a rare gem of Lao Sua with it's beautiful decorative tiles and now the rediscovery of the beautifully composed memorial plaque.