For those who revel in the cosmic profundities of kitsch, there are few places on planet earth as deliriously rewarding as Haw Par Villa (which is surely in the Pantheon with the Precious Moments Park and Chapel in Carthage, Missouri, as well as Elvis’s funky mausoleum in Memphis and Michael Jackson’s now-defunct Neverland Ranch). The crown jewel of this collection of mythological oddities resides in the east section of the park, the infamous Ten Courts of Hell, situated in the mouth of a 60 meter dragon. Equal parts Heironymus Bosch, Red Grooms, and your garden-variety putt-putt course, The Ten Courts of Hell does not disappoint; just like the contrapasso contrivances in Dante’s Inferno, each sinner’s punishment gruesomely fits his crime, and punishment is likewise meted out by scowling judges and their demonic henchmen:
Each court is ruled by a ‘yama’ or a king, who dishes out different punishments befitting the sins committed in one’s life. The concept ‘One reaps what one sows’ is the basis of the legend of the Ten Courts of Hell. However, the influence of Confucianism is so great that punishments for failing to comply, such as disrespect for the written word, lack of filial piety or inattention in class are often equal to, or more terrifying than that for murder. It is believed when one first dies, 2 guardians from Hades will come to take your soul to Hades. One has the head of a horse and the other of an ox. These are the guardians of Hell….Ox-Head and Horse-Face.
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