Thursday, July 26, 2007

Emperor of Kowloon (「九龍皇帝」曾灶財)

It was reported in the newspapers that he died a few days ago. Certainly one of the most colorful personalities of Hong Kong, mainly through his “calligraphy” in public places all over Kowloon, and his claim to be the Emperor of Kowloon.

Most of his graffiti, however, have been removed by our government. This one on the pillar is the only one that still remains at the TsimShaTsui Star Ferry Pier (that I am aware of).

The bigger one below is on a wall outside Kai Yip Estate (啟業) in Kowloon Bay, facing Kwun Tong Road (觀塘道). It was still there as of last Saturday; but I cannot guarantee that it is still standing now. There one can read more about his personal history, his family, where he lives, his past jobs, etc. His legs were broken when he worked as a garbage collector 20 years ago; that's why he had to use crutches in recent years.

He had to stop graffiti-ing in 2003 because of poor health. When I took this picture last Saturday, I was aware there would not be new ones. Bit I did not know that he had passed away already.

His may or may not be great works of art. But he is definitely part of the popular history and culture of Hong Kong. Many of us are quite fond of him. It is a great pity if even a small part of it cannot be preserved.

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