The preservation of traditional trades and food of Penang, plays a significant role in keeping the history and culture alive in the UNESCO heritage city of George Town. However, with the emergence of technology and changing times, it has become quite a challenge today to find artisans still practising the skilled craftsmanship from the old days. Here are a few of the rare craftsmanship we come across that have been passed on to today’s generation and hopefully for more generations to come.
Wooden Signboard Engraver
Kok Ying Chow Signboard Maker at No. 41 Queen Street, was started by Mr. Kok Ying Chow who migrated to Penang from Guangdong China and mastered the craft from the age of 14. The business was passed on to his son, Mr. Kok Ah Wah, who is one of Penang’s remaining wood engravers today. This fine wood-engraving art by hand has been in the family for 70 years.
(left) chinese character carvings by Mr. Kok using different chisel heads; (right) Mr. Kok in the midst of preparing another signboard to be engraved
Lee Soo Kee Rattan huddled amongst a row of shophouses on Chulia Street, is one of the few places left where craftsmen can be found weaving cane furniture by hand.
rattan chairs exhibiting fine craftsmanship
At the corner of Carnarvon Street and Campbell Street, a local locksmith stands under the shade of a colourful umbrella. Known for his expertise in key-making by using conventional tools and old key cutting machines, a constant stream of customers wait to be served, as he works busily throughout the day.
key cutting in progress
Handmade Pastry Making
Hidden along a small lane off Chulia Street is Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Kueh. Apart from traditional nyonya kueh, the family run business makes other delicious pastries like curry puffs and spring rolls.
(left) preparing curry puff skin; (right) spicy filling for the curry puff, usually made of potato and minced meat
(left) huge woks in a row; (right) deep frying popiah-chi, a type of spring roll