The Headless Statue that Watches Over NTU

The other day, as I was walking around the campus in NTU (I was lost, actually), I discovered a headless statue, standing on one of the upper floors just behind the railings, as if it were vigilantly watching over the entire campus. (Yeah, I know, it has no head, so how does it see? Let’s just be creative for a minute.)

The headless angel standing on level B3 in Block N3.1.
(Yes, you can see the sky, but that’s Basement 3. The floor numbering system here is silly.)

I decided to use my lunch time today to check it out.

I had many questions about this statue: What could this statue be? Who left it there? It’s quite an odd place for a statue anyway. Did someone vandalise the statue and cut of its head?

I made my way down to Block N3.1, and when I got to the floor (Basement 3 – yes, the flooring system here is stupid) where the statue was, I was pleasantly surprised to find a small little garden!

And there it was, the statue, standing gloriously under the noonday sun!


It turns out that there’s a plaque which describes this statue:

Winged Victory of Samothrace (Full size replica of the ancient Greek marble statue). Donated by Dr. John S. T. Cheung. John was an Associate professor in MAE until his retirement in 2003.

As it turns out, this headless angel is the “Winged Victory of Samothrace,” otherwise known as the ancient Greek goddess, Nike! (Just do it!) Nike is Greek for “victory.”

It’s an exact replica of the original statue that was excavated and found to have the head and hands missing.

I did some research online and found that the retired Professor Cheung is quite an artist! He paints and sculpts! Wow! Though he didn’t sculpt the statue, he managed to get NTU, and the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering to use a hydraulic lifting crane to place it on as high a location as possible.

It would have been really cool if the statue was placed on a much higher, more visible location.

Where is it standing at the moment is kinda hidden, and unknown to many who study and work on campus.

Yet oddly enough, this current location adds an air of mystery and wonder to the statue: it is a weird juxtaposition of an ancient Greek goddess standing honourably between humanity and his technological artifices, and nature with her lush greenery and deep blue skies.

From one angle, you see nature – the forests and the sky, and from another angle, you see nothing but roads and buildings.

Nike, the goddess stands in harmony at the centre of these two poles and watches over humanity and nature in silence. To those who learn to conquer and rise victorious over their own weaknesses and obstacles, without destroying the delicate balance of humanity and nature, she looks kindly upon them who put up the good fight, and blesses them with her wreath of victory.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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