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Where Gods Are Born

Go behind the scenes at Say Tian Hng, a Taoist effigy-making shop established in 1896.

Amid Tanjong Pagar's skyscrapers and hipster bars, there is a quiet shop filled from floor to ceiling with wooden statues of Taoist deities, some as small as an iPhone, some as large as a chair.

Say Tian Hng ("Heaven's Garden" in Hokkien) is a 4th-generation Taoist effigy-making shop, one of the last-surviving heritage businesses in Singapore.

Conducted by docents who are friends of the Ng family, the Where Gods Are Born cultural education programme will introduce you to the stories of these deities and the craft that has been passed down over centuries.

The Taoist pantheon is made up of hundreds of deities, comprising, monks and magistrates, boys and beasts, warlords and maidens.

In this session, we will learn the stories of some of these ancient heroes and the timeless values they symbolise.We will learn about the craft of effigy-making and the iconography - such as the motifs, facial features, and weapons - used in the depiction of the deities.

We will learn how Grandma Ng brought up 7 kids while running the business, the impact of Singapore's rapid urban renewal on this heritage business, and what the 4th generation is doing today to reinvent the business.

As the programme is conducted during the operating hours of the shop, there may be the occasional customer coming and going.

The artisans will not be participating in the programme, but they will be working in the shop. There will not be any demonstrations or hands-on activities, but the docents will explain the craft using visual aids and tools.

The programme is secular in nature and suitable for guests of all religions and races. No prior knowledge of Taoism is required.

We are keeping each group size small for COVID safe management as well as a more intimate learning experience. We look forward to sharing Say Tian Hng's story with you!

Located a short distance from the Maxwell Food Court in Chinatown, there will also be lots of lovely places to eat nearby for those wanting to go to lunch afterwards. Please indicate which morning you would prefer, there is a limit of 6 people per session. Contact Pippa at to register your interest .

Sep 7, 2021

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM (GMT+8)

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35 Neil Road

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