Sago Lane (Chinese: 硕莪巷) is a one-way lane in Chinatown within the Outram Planning Area in Singapore. The street links Banda Street to Neil Road. In the past, the street was much longer and was home to funeral parlours or death houses. Part of the street was demolished in the late 1960s due to the construction of the new HDB development at Kreta Ayer, also known as Chinatown Complex. Currently the street, is mainly used during Chinese New Year as part of the festive bazaar in Chinatown.
Etymology and history
The lane received its name because during the 1840s, there were numerous sago factories in both Sago Street and Lane. Sago was taken from the pith of the rumbia palm and made into flour that is used to make cakes. During the 1850s, there were thirty sago factories in the town which had a total output of 8,000 tons annually. Many of the sago factories were in the Sago Street area. In the 1920s the lane was used as a jinriksha station in Chinatown. The lane's famous Chinese death houses or funeral homes came into existence in the late 19th century. This was the place where people near death will be left to die, with the funeral parlour prepared below. All the Chinese funeral paraphernalia (funeral clothing, home appliances, paper models such as houses, cars, incense paper etc.) were related to death rites were sold in shops on this lane. The death houses were banned by the government in 1961, and by the late 1960s, all the shophouses on the street were demolished, with part of the street being demolished to make way for Chinatown Complex.
Some mistaken Sago Street as sei yang gai or the "street of the dead", but it's actually on Sago Lane. Sago Street was where brothels were located. Sago Lane is known as ho ba ni au koi in Hokkien, which literally means "the street behind Ho Man Nin". Ho Man Nin is the chop of a well known singing hall in neighbouring Sago Street.
- Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2004), Toponymics - A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern University Press, ISBN 981-210-364-3
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