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Divine Custody

A History of Singapore’s Oldest Teochew Temple

An architectural and historical study of Singapore’s oldest Teochew Temple.

At the turn of the nineteenth century, Teochew-speaking gambier and pepper farmers settled in Singapore. Surrounded by the skyscrapers of Singapore's central business district, Wak Hai Cheng Bio temple traces its history back to the earliest days of the colony. While no written sources or inscriptions commemorate the founding of the temple, Yeo Kang Shua’s book delves into the history of the temple's foundation, encountering a rich history along the way. Poetic and commemorative, Yeo attends to the testimony of the building itself—the location, materials, ornamentation, and artwork that charge the space with meaning. Divine Custody tells the story of a temple that formed and was formed by its community. Of interest to heritage studies and those seeking to understand the experience of Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, this book is exemplary in the way it uses material culture and architectural history as historical sources.

288 pages | 74 color plates, 43 halftones | 7 1/4 x 9 1/4

Architecture: History of Architecture

Religion: South and East Asian Religions

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“[This book can] be seen as an important example of growing scholarly appreciation of Singapore’s Chinese architecture in its own terms. . . . Overall, this book would be of great interest to a variety of potential readers, from aficionados of Chinese temples to those interested in Singaporean or diasporic Chinese architecture. Beyond this, all interested in the intersections between building conservation, architectural heritage and culture would find the book to be of great value in understanding the connections between principles and methods that underpin restoration projects.”

Fabrications: The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Notes on Transliteration
Chapter 1: History of the Property and Its Origins
Chapter 2: Changing Social Relationships with the Temple in the Nineteenth to Twentieth Centuries
Chapter 3: Architectural Development of the Temple in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Chapter 4: The 2010 to 2014 Restoration
Chapter 5: Conclusion
Bibliographic Appreciation

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