Thursday, June 11, 2009



what is this huge urn used for?



the other day, while we were exploring the chinatown area in singapore, one of my fellow explorers excited called out to me: "come here and see this! do you know what this huge urn is used for?"

the gigantic urn was raised and resting on four pieces of bricks. it had a cover which could be slid open.

i do not if the chinese characters on the side of the urn will give the answer away.


answer to the quiz:

as victor has correctly guessed the answer, i have posted a picture of the inside of the urn. it was used by the restaurant for preparing soup in the small pots. the shop where we came across this urn or jar is called the old shanghai.

26 comments:

jean said...

Is it used to store and pickle vegetables?

Icemoon said...

Top grade nuerhong wine? I saw the chinese character for 'soup' though.

I wonder how they take the content out of the urn?

Anonymous said...

Bean sprouts?

Victor said...

Aiyah this one easy lah. Ancestor's ashes.

Only kidding, saw one in Blk 22 Sin Ming Road coffeeshop. You did take this photo in Melbourne, right?

nah said...

This is a rice urn, usually gigantic, with a cover and raised from the ground. To the Chinese, the rice urn symbolizes the family’s fortune, and it should be kept in a back room, signifying the family’s fortune being safely hidden away. It must not be left empty, as it symbolizes wealth draining away.

yg said...

victor, you think barrel-shaped things must come from melbourne. chinatown area in singapore

Lam Chun See said...

I think its for some kind of drink; wine probably. It reminds me of the kiam chye (salted vegetables) that we used to buy from the provision shop in our kampong.

jean said...

Kiam Chye!!! That's it! I was trying to remember the name of it and Chun See hit it on the nail.Our local provision shop sold it too and I do recall a similar but scaled down version of this jar.
And if you had the Mumps, Ah Pei(everyone called him that)the owner had a remedy of writing Chinese characters on your cheeks in blue ink to chase the bad spirits away.Iced drinks,chap jee kee,monthly credit,grated coconut...our provision shop almost had it all.Trust had a different meaning in the old days.

yg said...

hi jean, i think the ah pei (pek?) wrote the chinese character 'tiger' on the cheeks. it was also done at my kampong.

yg said...

so far, no one has got the correct answer although someone did mention one of the words.

Victor said...

Since everyone seems not to know the answer, let me make a guess. The urn contains different types of steamed soup or dun tang (炖汤). I think kiam chye ah (咸菜鸭)is one of the types but certainly not kiam chye alone. Other types of soup available are the ginseng chicken and the black chicken. Served with orh png (yam rice).

Besides at Blk 22 Sin Ming, there's another stall near Blk 3014A Ubi Road 1 which I have patronised before.

And to answer Icemoon's question, they take the little pots of soup out from the urn using tongs. (The urn is actually a steamer - all the different types of soup are already in their individual pots.)

seenthisscenethat said...

My guess: something used by Ali Baba or one of his forty thieves.

Lam Chun See said...

I have seen some teochew moi (porridge) stalls that keep their porridge in huge urns. Maybe this one is a high-class version.

Judging from the lid/cover, I say, it must be a food or drink.

jean said...

Yes yg it was indeed 'tiger' written on the cheeks.I can still remember the odeur of the ink.I meant 'ah pek' of course.
Rice seems a bit too obvious an answer but once again Chun See made an interesting suggestion about porridge (chiok).

fr said...

store water

nah said...

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,

Hark! This is the witches’ cauldron.

Mel said...

it contains the ashes of problem students. :-0

;-)

PChew said...

We used to store rice in a larger jar with cover but not like this one.

Anonymous said...

Is it for making salted eggs?

Yu-Kym said...

You're in the top 10 for Sg blog awards! I'm in top 10 too but for Most Insightful Blog.
http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/

yg said...

hi yu-kym, thanks for updating me on the sg blog awards. i am out of touch with happenings back home; the only news i catch is the h1n1 situation. i just checked the website and saw that you are one of the top 3 finalists. congrats!

Anonymous said...

saw ur blog address in a Zao Bao article today. Luv ur caption "take me back to the years.... when life was carefree".

thot 2 add - this shop sells about 5 types of nourishing soup (ginseng chicken, black chicken tang gui chicken etc).

Years back, I used to patronise the Ubi branch until one day when I saw them transporting the soup. The soup was actually cooked somewhere, kept in plastic containers and then transported to the Ubi branch in the morning. The workers will then transfer the half-cooked contents into the claypots and put them in the big urn for double-boiling.

As I dislike the idea of using plastic containers to keep hot soup, I stop patronising them.

Icemoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Icemoon said...

Thanks for the tip-off anon.

Here is a scan of the ZaoBao article mentioned - link.

My quick translation:

Best Lifestyle Blog Award

Retiree Yew Ghee's blog allows the reader to have a peek at Singapore's little known history. What is the historical background of Lai Chuen Yuen? Where did the first Old Chang Kee open its shop? Click his blog, walk along the historical corridor.

yg said...

hi anonymous, i wasn't at the shop for the soup; was exploring chinatown when we came upon this huge urn with a metal cover. curious, my friend asked the people in the shop what it was used for. anyway, they told us that they had stopped selling soup.
yes, many people believe that plastic containers should not be used to hold hot stuff.

yg said...

hi anonymous and ice-moon, thanks for keeping me informed of the article in zaobao. here, in melbourne, i am quite out of touch with happenings in s'pore. anyway, even if i was back home, i might not know of this as i do not read (or rather, i do not know how to read) the chinese newspaper.