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Sung Wong Toi

Sung Wong Toi
Chinese 宋王臺

Sung Wong Toi is an important historic relic in Kowloon, Hong Kong. While its remaining portion is now located in the Sung Wong Toi Garden (宋皇臺花園) in Ma Tau Wai, it was originally a 45 m tall boulder standing on the top of Sacred Hill (聖山) in Ma Tau Chung above Kowloon Bay.

Contents

  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Song dynasty 2.1
    • Yuan dynasty 2.2
    • Qing dynasty 2.3
    • Japanese occupation of Hong Kong 2.4
    • Post war 2.5
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Etymology

The name Sung Wong Toi literally means Terrace of the Sung kings. The stone is believed to have been a memorial to the last two boy emperors of the Southern Song dynasty, Zhao Shi and Zhao Bing, who temporarily lived in Hong Kong from 1277 to 1279. In historical maps and documents, Sung Wong Toi is also known as Hill of the King of the Sung[1] and Song Wong Toi in some occasions.

History

c. 1920s. The boulder bearing the three carved characters is situated on top of the hill (right); both were protected as sacred relics by a special ordinance in 1899. The gate, the steps to the inscription and the balustrade around the boulder were erected in 1915. The hill was levelled and the boulder was broken up in blasting operations to extend Kai Tak Airport.

Song dynasty

Sung Wong Toi before the Second Sino-Japanese War
Stone carving before its separation from the original rockface (c.1950)
Sung Wong Toi Garden in 2009

According to historical records, when the child emperors Zhao Shi and Zhao Bing of the Song dynasty were fleeing south when the Song Empire was gradually being conquered by the Mongol Empire in the late 13th century, they took refuge at the Sacred Hill along the seashore. Zhao Shi died of illness in Hong Kong, while Zhao Bing died when the Song loyalist Lu Xiufu put him on his shoulders and jumped off a cliff following the defeat of Song by the Mongols at the naval Battle of Yamen.

Yuan dynasty

After the Song dynasty was overthrown by the Mongols in 1279, local residents inscribed the words "Sung Wong Toi" on this large rock that was on the Sacred Hill at that time.

Note that the Chinese character 王 (pinyin wáng, which means king) is carved in the stone instead of the conventional character 皇 (pinyin huáng, which means emperor). Both 王 and 皇 pronounced as "Wong" in Cantonese. The most likely reason is that the locals wished to avoid angering the Mongol rulers. It is not known whether 皇 was used initially, with the upper part of the character later cut off, or if 王 was used from the start.

Qing dynasty

In 1807, seven smaller characters were added on the right side of the stone to record the renovation work during the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor.

Japanese occupation of Hong Kong

During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in 1941–1945, the boulder was dislodged from its place when the Sacred Hill was leveled for an extension of the Kai Tak Airport. A portion of the rock inscribed with Chinese characters survived the blasting operation. That part of the boulder, about one-third of its original size, displays the Chinese name of the stone, "Sung Wong Toi".

Post war

After World War II, this portion of the stone was shaped into a rectangular block and moved to the Sung Wong Toi Garden, a small park especially constructed for it. This park is located in the present-day Kowloon City District, at the junction of Sung Wong Toi Road and Ma Tau Chung Road, which is close to the stone's original site. The construction work of the park was completed in the winter of 1945.

See also

References

  1. ^ 1920 Historical Map, Hong Kong Lands department, 1920.

External links

  • An account about the boulder
  • Film Services Office
  • Maps by Centamap
  • The Geographical Information System on Hong Kong Heritage
  • Hong Kong Fun in 18 Districts – Welcome to 18 Districts
  • Description and History

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