Intangible Heritage

Collection by Time Out Penang


George Town’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status is more than just buildings. Within the city’s protected architecture are people making a living out of traditional trades, obscure skills and abstruse occupations such as a cultural supplier. Su Aziz – with the help of George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) – lists down a few to make them more, well, tangible.

Time Out Penang
This blacksmith workshop makes anchors and iron products, and is run by 64-year old Teoh Huah Guan. A Yung Ting Hakka, he inherited it from his grandfather. It’s been said that the first blacksmith in Penang was also a Yung Ting Hakka. Today, even though the anvil and hammer have been replaced by a hammering machine, blacksmithing is still a labour intensive process requiring skill and strength.

This printers and stationers firm was founded in 1935 by Dato’ S. Letchumanasamy. Despite the many changes in printing technology – from Romanised to Tamil moveable types, to linotype, to offset lithography – the Jothie firm still use their old printing machines till today. They were the first to produce locally made diaries, and has continued to specialise in bookbinding and making handmade accounts ledgers. The printing business is now run by his son.

DOnt let this pass you by.

Founded by 78-year old Leong Soo, Li Costume provides costume rental and make-up services for Chinese opera and organises performances for Chinese festivals where characters are dressed in traditional costumes representing fook, lok, sow (luck, prosperity, longevity) and Choy San who is the God of Prosperity. Besides that, they also provide design and decoration services for procession floats.

Boria, a performing art form that evolved from the song and dance routines of the East India Company regiments, is unique to Penang. Before television became popular, most Malay and Muslim youth in Penang were Boria fans and almost every Malay kampong would have its own Boria troupe participating in processions. 62-year old Mohd. Jailani is a Boria practioner and known for his significant role in the Kampung Rawana Boria troupe and Sungai Pinang Boria troupe in the 1980s.

For decades, Lim Teck Lee have been a wholesaler of long established products that have been used in Penang’s homes, coffee shops and cottage industries. In 1918, Lim Cher Meng, a Teow Aun Teochew, established the company in Singapore before branching out to Kuala Lumpur and Penang soon after. Till today, they distribute products under their own brand such as hardware tools, chemicals and raw materials, brushes and furniture as well as their ‘Peacock Brand’ natural dyes.

Cikgu Mohamed bin Yahya is an archivist of Jawi books and printed ephemera. After his father’s death in 1979, he took over his father’s collection of newspaper clippings, diaries, notes and photographs for safekeeping. Then he added to it with his own collections of books printed by the Malay press in Penang, souvenir books of Hajj travel, Hari Raya cards and other printed ephemera.

Local coffee sold in coffee shops as ‘kopi O’ consists of coffee beans roasted with sugar, margarine, salt and sesame, and is a product developed by the Penang Hainanese. 87-year old Dato’ Seri Choot Ching Khoon came to Penang at 12 years old and started the Kun Kee coffee business 11 years later. He used to roast, grind and pack the coffee himself and distribute it all over the island by bicycle. Now, it is the largest coffee powder producer in Penang.