Seang Hin Leong Rattan & Bamboo crafts

BOTH dedication and passion are the keys to making crafts using rattan and bamboo splints. Ninety-year-old craftsman Sim Buck Teik did not show any signs of fatigue when met at his shop in Seang Hin Leong in Beach Street here. Although the nonagenarian has passed on the business to his children, he still holds on to his passion in making crafts using rattan and bamboo splints.

His family business has survived for four generations. Buck Teik’s family came from the Guangdong Province in China, which is the heart of traditional handicrafts in China. Buck Teik’s grandfather and father came to Penang in the early 1900s to earn a living through rattan weaving. His daughter Sim Jeck Choo, 60, said the duo worked in a rattan weaving shop in Penang Road before opening their own shop, also in Penang Road.

The business grew and we have this premises (in Beach Street) in 1948. Rattan products were once essential tools during the early 20th century. Rattan was the preferred material due to its durability. We have housewives carrying rattan baskets to the market, traders using rattan containers to store their products and much more,” she said. Jeck Choo added that learning the art of weaving the rattan was all about interest.

If you have it, you can do anything. Anyone can learn how to weave through the Internet. Nowadays, people can just Google or YouTube what they want to know.  It is so easy to pick up extra skills with YouTube,” she said. She said skills were actually passed down from generation to generation in the olden days. Buck Teik was among the few Living Heritage Treasures of Penang Award Winners.

According to the Penang Heritage Trust website, the Living Heritage Treasures Awards of the Penang Heritage Trust was put in place in 2005, in a move to protect the skills, techniques and those possessing them. Buck Teik was awarded in recognition of his invaluable contributions to the intangible cultural heritage of Penang. The Sim’s family wants to share their talents with the community. They have weaving classes where public can learn the basic weaving techniques.

Visit their Facebook page at 祥兴隆 Seang Hin Leong Rattan & Bamboo crafts for more details.

Other interesting post about rattan by Penang Heritage Trust :

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