It’s been a busy month for traditional paper
oblation craftsmen like Mr Loh Ah Ban. The Hungry Ghost Festival celebrated
from 27th July, will mark its final day on 24th August
2014. Up till now, orders continue to increase at Ah Ban Paper Oblation Shop
located at Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town. With the help of his family and crew
of craftsmen, the team paces hurriedly to fulfill orders after orders of paper
houses, miniature paper replicas and giant paper effigies of Chinese Gods, in
particular the ‘Da Shi Ye’ or the God of Hades.
‘Two days ago, someone made a special order for a paper effigy of a Chinese God. The harder ones take a few days to make,’ explained Mr Loh's daughter, simply known as Ean. On a regular basis, each member of the team will be responsible for creating different parts of the structure such as the head or body before combining it into a complete master piece.
‘It’s not easy to learn my father’s work as it takes a lot of time to master it, about 10 years to learn everything. Therefore, we picked it up progressively by parts of the structure’ shared Ean. ‘Last year, my father requested that I learnt the craft whenever I was free because he feared that it would disappear if no one took up the trade.’
Ean strongly feels that preserving traditional
arts and crafts is crucial in sustaining Penang's cultural beliefs. 'I wish my
father would build a museum to showcase his craft to the public,' said Ean with
a smile. 'In countries like Taiwan and China, such art form is slowly
disappearing. My father felt sad when he learnt about it.'
'In Penang, there are many traditional handicraft work that are not popularly known. We should do something to preserve our history and find a way to present it to the world.'
Ah Ban Paper Oblation Shop is located at 198A, Lebuh Carnarvon in George Town. The shop opens daily from 9.00am - 6.00pm and their contact is 04-261 5292.