There are so many traditional craftsmanships in Penang that some of us don’t even know about and sadly most of these trades are vanishing. If you’ve not checked out any of these trades or you don’t even know they exist here in Penang then this is your chance. These makers have been working for decades and they have vast experience in what they do.
Here Are 10 Penang Traditional Craftsmanship That You Must Check Out
1. Joss stick making
Mr. Lee Beng Chuan who is 94-year-old has been making joss stick for decades now. Mr. Lee is the only one known to be making joss stick by hand while most of the joss sticks are mass produced and imported from China. This form of art was self-taught as Mr. Lee observes how these joss sticks were made in factories. However, this hard work does not pay much.
Address: 1, Lorong Muda, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 8 am – 10 am (Monday – Friday)
2. Chinese Seal Cutter & Calligrapher
These stamps were used by businessmen, traders, and calligraphers as a form of signature. Stampings are used on artworks and official documents. Mr. Ng Chai Tiam would carve out the bottom of the stone chops that’s been imported from China with precisions. This required a magnifying glass as well to make sure the stamp is as detailed as possible. While you’re able to get stamps from stationery shops, this makes it even more personalized because it’s actually hand-carved by Mr. Ng.
Address: Tian Hua Arts & Antique, 85 Lebuh Carnarvon,10100 George Town
Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Daily)
3. Signboards carver
These carved signboards can be found in traditional Chinese businesses. Many still can be found around Penang and it’s all being hung proudly either outside or inside of the shop. This tradition has been brought over from China. The Chinese characters on the board will typically be gold in color and the boards will either be black, red or green. This process requires good carving and calligraphy skills as well as precision.
1. Kok Ying Chow Signboard Maker, 41, Lebuh Queen, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 11 am – 5 pm (Monday – Friday)
2. Sung Dynasty Wood Carving, 77, Lebuh Carnarvon, 10100 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Monday – Saturday)
4. Rattan Weaver
The weaving of rattan has been around for decades now and these furnitures are durable. You can get all kinds of furniture and even hats that’s been weaved by these experienced weavers. I remember learning how to weave in school and it requires a lot of patience. Do check out these shops if you’re looking for rattan furniture or other household items.
- Seang Hin Leong, 393 Lebuh Pantai,10300 George Town
Opening hours: 9 am – 6 pm (Monday – Saturday)
2. 358, Jalan Penang, George Town, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 11: 30 am – 7 pm (Daily)
5. Songkok making
Songkoks are usually worn by Malay men and it’s a traditional headgear. This headgear is usually worn during special occasions such as Hari Raya and weddings and the weekly visits to the mosque. Mr. Haja Mohideen who is 83-year-old is running a business that was past down to him by his father and the business was established in 1993. Besides traditional Malay headgears, he makes karzi which is a northern Indian headgear and fezs. So if you’re looking to make a custom fit songkok, Mr. Haja is the songkok maker who will do it for you.
Address: Kedai Songkok OSM Mohd Shariff, 157 Lebuh King,10200 George Town
Opening hours: 10:30 am – 9:30 pm (Monday – Saturday)
6. Flower Garland
Garland making was to Penang by Indian immigrants. Flower garlands are offered to the gods at the shrine or altars at home. The flowers that are used are mainly jasmine, roses, dahlias, and marigolds. These flowers are picked from Penang Hill and Cameron Highlands. The flowers are carefully chosen for their fragrance and colors before being made into garlands.
Address: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (next to the Goddess of Mercy Temple), 10200 George Town
Opening hours: 9 am – 9 pm (Daily)
7. Nyonya Beaded Shoes
These custom-made Nyonya beaded shoes are necessities to the traditional Nyonyas. Making a pair is very time-consuming and tedious because of the tiny-sized plastic beads that have to be sewn together to create the designs. Creating a pair can take up to at least 3 months. These slippers are typically worn with Baju Kebaya and a sarong.
Address: Handmade Nyonya Beaded Shoes, 4 Lebuh Armenian, 10200 George Town
Opening hours: 9:30 am – 6 pm (Monday – Saturday)
8. Wooden Clogs
Before the rubber slippers that you usually wear took over, clogs were the slippers that were usually worn. These clogs are known as ‘kah kiak’ in Hokkien were worn by Baba Nyonyas, Chinese, Indians, and Malays. There are red clogs as well that are used as decorations during Chinese weddings. The red clogs represent good fortune. There are only 2 clog makers left in Penang now.
- Tan Yang Ling, located behind a row of shophouses at Jalan Dandy in Bukit Mertajam, Penang
Opening hours: unknown
2. Eng Ai Tee, 30C Siam Road, 10140 Penang
Opening hours: unknown
9. Peanut Candy
These sweet treats are also known as ‘kong th’ng’ in Hokkien. The process of this peanut candy includes cooking the roasted nuts in sugar syrup then the mixture will be press and pound into a flaky sheet using a rolling pin. The flaky sheet will be rolled up and then cut into bite-sized pieces. It’s definitely an arm workout to make this peanut candy.
1. Ang Seng Heong, Northam Beach Cafe, 58 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 10050 Georgetown Penang
Opening hours: 8 pm – 12 am (Daily)
2. Sungai Pinang Food Court Paradise, Kompleks Penjaja Solok Sungai Pinang, 11600 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 7 am – 1 am (Daily)
10. Stonemason And Tombstone Engraver
Before the existence of technology, carving a tombstone will require at least seven to eight carvers. Now carving a tombstone only require one skilled carver. While the process is being done with machinery but the finishing touches are done by hand.
1. Gim Chuan Hin, 34, 34A Gat Lebuh Acheh, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm (Daily)
2. Teik Hin Stone Factory, 9 & 11, Lebuh Acheh, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: unknown
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