Sung Wong Toi

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Sung Wong Toi
Sung Wong Toi.jpg
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.

Literal meaning[edit]

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.

History[edit]

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.

Sung Dynasty[edit]

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

According to historical records, the two young Song emperors were pursued by the Mongolian army and fled south, eventually taking refuge at the Sacred Hill along the seashore. Zhao Shi died of illness in Hong Kong, while Zhao Bing died when a retainer put him on his shoulders and jumped off a cliff following the naval defeat of the Song dynasty by the Mongols at the Battle of Yamen.

Yuan dynasty[edit]

After the Song dynasty was overthrown by the Mongol army in 1279 AD, 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 (pinyin wáng, which means king) is carved in the stone instead of the conventional character (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 new Yuan 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[edit]

In 1807, seven smaller characters were added on the right side of the stone to record the renovation work in the tingmau year of the Qing Emperor Jiaqing.

Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°19′29.35″N 114°11′21.54″E / 22.3248194°N 114.1893167°E / 22.3248194; 114.1893167