Wooden Clogs Making

Wooden soled shoes, commonly known as clogs, make clip-clop sounds with each step taken wearing them, has a rich history of 3,000 years’ existence in China. The structure of traditional clogs are simple: A piece of wood as the base, creating two “teeth” on the base, then holes are pierced and tied up firmly by strings. The two wooden “teeth” are practical in humid environment where puddles formed after rain, as it is easier to step over mud, and prevents the feet from being scratched by weeds. In contrast to ordinary shoes, due to being made from wood, clogs possess the characteristics of damp-proof, non-slip, and ventilation, keeping the feet dry while reducing the incidence of bacterial growth. Hence when its popularity decline, clogs remain in demand for a few industries, such as food preparation and kitchen, farming, wet market vendors etc.

As times, nativity, and cultural backgrounds differ, various forms and diverse styles spawned, such as WenChang clogs, Japanese clogs, Mud clogs, MaoWoZi clogs etc. The classic wholly red clogs are beloved by the older generation of the Malaysian Chinese community, being affordable and durable, a must-have daily necessity. This type of generally familiar clogs are known as ChaoShan clogs. Its most distinctive feature being its bee waist sole design, and the usage of plastic piece and leather nailed into the shape of sails in replacement of traditional strings.

Located in an alley among the old streets of Bukit Mertajam, there is a shop whose master craftsman Mr Tan Yang Ling still produces handmade clogs. A crude blue tin roof houses Chuan Seng Clogs founded by Master Tan’s father, inhabiting a limited space yet fully equipped. From sawing tree trunks, planing into shape, sanding and painting, to nailing leather skin, the dozen procedures are completed by Master Tan alone.

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s was the heyday of clogs, where the supply was not able to meet demands, business was extremely thriving. With the passage of time, as the usage of rubber and plastic became more common, there were more material choices for shoe-making. Besides, the loud sounds made when walking in clogs were not complacent with the trend of modern beauty standards, and may be deemed as noise. The link between clogs and culture are only seen in folk traditions, weddings or funerals.

As lifestyles shift, the old masters in making clogs gradually retire, it is difficult to reinstate the splendour of clogs. Master Tan will be the last successor of the shop, the clip-clop of clogs may no longer be heard.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : The Beauty Of Love

COPYRIGHTS 2019 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Songkok Making

Click-clack… Both legs on the stepping board, pulling the vintage sewing machine of 60 years, resonating a melodic rhythm, needle and thread pass through fabric at lightning speed, stitching accurately. In the narrow workshop cum retail store, 71-year-old Mr Haja Mohideen focuses his sight on the fabric and thread in his hands, utilising his savvy tailoring skills in producing songkoks. He is also the last old craftsman producing handmade songkoks. 

Mr Haja’s shop (Kedai Songkok Osm Mohd Shariff) is located near Penang’s Little India, behind the shop stands an Indian Muslim mosque built in the 19th century with alternating white and green coloured outer walls —— Nagore Dargha Sheriff. The small shop was established in 1936 by Mr Haja’s father who migrated from India, never once shifting its address. Back then, there were six to seven shops producing handmade songkoks in Georgetown, however as times change, eventually the old craftsmen retire without any heir to succeed this drudging yet less profitable trade. At present, the songkoks sold in today’s markets are mass produced by factories, at a lower price, dealing a severe blow to traditional handmade songkok shops. 

Mr Haja, who has been helping his father to sew songkoks since a young age, inherited the shop when he was 25 years old due to his father’s death. Four decades passed in the blink of an eye, now he is making good business, especially before Hari Raya Aidilfitri. His customers come from all age groups, some young customers followed in their elder generation’s footsteps, purchasing handmade songkok from Mr Haja’s family. 

It comes as a comfort to the ageing Mr Haja that his skills are inherited by his son-in-law, continuing the legacy of his family trade. Inscribed within the narrow space are the life tracks of three generations.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Evon Pang
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : Francolin from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2019 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Teck Lee Book Co

The role a bookstore plays in a region is not limited to selling all sorts of publications and stationery, it also bears the importance of cultural exchange and knowledge circulation. In an era without the internet, the traditional bookstore satisfies scholars craving for knowledge, as well as nourishes the souls of the general public. Moreover, daily newspapers became spiritual nourishment for fellow hometowners who earlier on migrated southwards to Malaysia from China to seek a living. Teck Lee Book Co located in Jalan Kong Sang, Seremban, has been playing this role for over a century, accompanying many students and members of the general public along numerous bustling years and over apocalyptic eras, being a collective memory of Seremban and neighbourhoods in the region.

Established in 1918 by the founder Mr Ng Mow Teck (transliteration) and his wife at River Road (now Jalan Kong Sang) in Seremban, Teck Lee Book Co originated from a small roadside stall. In the early days of the business, they sold cigarettes, iced drinks, stationery, and distributed Chinese newspapers published in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, so that fellow hometowners who came to seek a living from China could grasp the situation and development back in their homeland. Eventually, the basic operations of the bookstore gained stability, expanding in 1934 and shifted to the current address, starting to operate as a store in the publishing industry, remaining standing till the present, never once moved.

Mr Ng Kok Fook is the third generation owner of Teck Lee Book Co, as well as a collector. Arranged in neat arrays are boxes full of publications, magazines, and his personal collection of books. Among them are some student publications published in the 50’s, magazines and 《Students’ Vocabulary》 directly imported from Hong Kong in the olden days, etc. Each publication is likened to history, recording the happenings in its time, a witness of different ages.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : Heavenly from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2019 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Bǎi Jí Joss Stick Maker

During deity birthday celebrations or when praying for blessings, brightly coloured joss sticks could be seen, sizes range from 4 ft up to 20 ft or even 30 ft. Besides being an offering to deities, joss sticks are also a form of traditional folk art. Especially pure handiwork joss sticks made by craftsmen, the intricate skills involved and the strenuous procedures, are admirable.

Not far away from the main street of Bukit Pelandok, following the expanse of a side road named “100 Acres” along the Sepang river, there is a handcrafted joss stick factory. The person-in-charge Mr Ong Sze Hong (transliteration) named the factory as Bǎi Jí Joss Stick Maker. Mr Ong mocks himself as being inexperienced, as joss stick manufacturing is not his career, he has been helping in his elder brother’s joss stick manufacturing factory when he was young, alas the factory closed down after a few years. At present, he inherited this skill under fortunate circumstances.

The procedures of manufacturing handcrafted joss sticks put patience to the test, and is not to be rushed. From the materials, style, size, coating, dragon head, moulding, dragon body, pinching and pressing, painting, to packaging, it takes at least two months, even up to a year, depending on the size of the joss stick. The most time-consuming procedure is the layer by layer coating of wood bran, once a layer is thoroughly dried, only can the next layer be coated. Meanwhile in the drying process, the joss stick should not be exposed to sunlight to prevent cracking, and weather changes affect the progress rate of natural drying.

Even though there is a steady market demand for joss sticks, a chasm has appeared in the manufacturing of traditional handcrafted joss sticks, rarely any of the younger generations inherit the legacy. Under the challenges imposed by limited manpower and mechanization, despite bearing cultural essence, the traditional joss stick manufacturing industry faces difficulties in operations and inheritance.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Video Editor : Michael Lerk
Music : Another Day To Remember from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2019 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Kim Yuen Shoemaker

Jalan Sultan is one of the two earliest streets built when Yap Ah Loy pioneered the development of Kuala Lumpur, equally famous as Jalan Petaling. These two streets are the cradle of Chinese predecessors who migrated southwards to Malaya to cultivate wildland, as well as being the initial life blood of Kuala Lumpur’s economy and central business district. Sustaining through centuries, these two streets bear witness to the bustling changes in Kuala Lumpur, especially in 2011 the government announced requisition involving 34 old buildings located within the area of these two streets for the MRT project, leading to strong objections and defending tempests from civil societies, finally succeeding in retaining most of the heritage sites from being knocked down.

Kim Yuen Shoe Maker is one of the shops which was almost affected. Established in 1967, it is the only remaining dance shoes specialty store offering custom-made dance shoes within the vicinity. The area of the shop is quite small, sharing a shopfront partitioned into two with its neighbour Ah Wah Tailor for decades; upstairs is a simple yet fully-equipped shoemaking workshop. 

Born into a family of shoemakers, Mr C.K. Lew, at the age of 18, took over operations of the shoemaking shop from his father Mr Lew Kim Yuen. His superb skills in specially tailored dance shoes and stage shoes gained popularity over the years from stage performers and touring artists since the early days. After inheriting the business, C.K. shifted his focus onto two types of dance shoes, namely Latin and ballroom dance shoes. He also devotes his passion in designing, researching, and manufacturing these dance shoes. 

As times changes, Kim Yuen Shoe Maker which has been operating for over half a century may be safe from the fate of being dismantled, however it could not escape from the misery of facing closure. In recent years due to Mr Lew’s health decline and management difficulties, the shoemaking workshop upstairs ceased to run at the beginning of this year. At the same time, being without an heir, Mr Lew states that he will retire and close down the business in a few months, Kim Yuen Shoe Maker will be leaving just an impression on Jalan Sultan. 

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : Simple Tune from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2019 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Biscuit Shop in Kajang

More than fifty huge glass jars with red lids, and metal tins neatly arranged on metal shelves, from low to high, layer by layer, containing a wide variety of traditional biscuits and snacks, in a dazzling array of nearly a hundred flavours. Kwong Sang Woh, located in Kajang’s old town, has been in business since 1907, staying in the same address for over a century, retaining the brick arcade architecture. 87-year-old Siew Pak Chong is the second generation owner, still quick-witted and alert despite his old age. He is a fixture at the shop counter, where he collects payments or chit-chat with his friends. 

Originally a grocery store, Kwong Sang Woh mainly sells daily supplies, and also a few biscuits. Since his son Siew Zi Kin (transliteration) and daughter-in-law Tan Bee Kien took over the reins, the shop gradually underwent a series of changes to specialize in selling traditional biscuits, their means of surviving business hardships faced by traditional grocery stores. Their customer base has also expanded outside ethnic Chinese to include other races such as Malays and Indians, and they are always busy. 

The golden era of grocery stores dated back in the 1950’s and 60’s, where you could find one almost everywhere, be it hustling streets or remote villages. Besides providing day-to-day goods, grocery stores also function as a uniting spot for the community to exchange information and build relationships.

With the rapid economic growth and changes in the consumer market, dawns the elimination of traditional grocery stores. Chain hypermarkets, supermarkets, and mini marts spring up in residential neighbourhoods like mushrooms after the rain, dealing a heavy blow to traditional grocery stores. How would traditional grocery stores stand against pressure from the market segment, internet, monopolization, and operation difficulties, would be a topic worth exploring.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : Aardvark Sunrise from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2019 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Charcoal Stove Factory in Jalan Kuala Kangsar

Be it in red or original clay colour, charcoal stoves were once a must-have kitchen equipment in every household, lending a unique charcoal aroma to foods cooked on it. Besides, charcoal stoves could be sighted on the traditional ceremonies of moving into a new house or ancestor worshipping, in order to pray for good luck or get rid of bad luck by stepping over a stove with burning charcoals. As times change, the convenience of gas stoves, as well as the increase of environmental friendliness lead to a steep decline in the demand of charcoal stoves, causing a slump in the local manufacturing of traditional charcoal stoves.

At the riverside area of Jalan Kuala Kangsar in Ipoh, there is still one family working in the industry of charcoal stove manufacturing who persists in using a traditional kiln. Mr Foong Cheah Thong is the second generation successor of Ban Li Stove Factory, a simple erection under an old zinc roof which houses two small workshops, a kiln, and an empty space. Over five decades, the factory is family-run under a small capital.

The manufacturing process of a traditional charcoal stove is time-consuming and strenuous, the work environment stifling hot, even foreign labourers are unable to endure the harshness of this industry. Market demand for charcoal stoves is lacklustre, with the increase in production costs, the profit margin is quite faint. Moreover, from time to time people complain about the environmental issue of heavy smoke erupting from the kiln to the authorities, which prompted inspection visits from the ministry of environmental health. Apart from receiving complaints, compounds were issued due to their inability in getting a legal operating license.

Despite the various challenges and blows, Mr Foong and his family are tenacious in keeping the family trade alive. The hard work involved in a seemingly simple charcoal stove is difficult to perceive by onlookers.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Music : The Back Porch from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2018 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Dragon Kiln in Ipoh

As early as 5000 years ago, the ancient people are already equipped with the knowledge of putting shaped piles of mud into holes for firing. Whereas the dragon kiln is the traditional way of firing ceramics in China, with its history tracing over 2000 years back to the Warring States Period. The dragon kiln is a long tunnel-shaped kiln, usually built on hillslopes, from the bottom to the top, utilizing the feature of height differences in the slope and the theory of rising flames, the design showcasing the wisdom of the ancient people.

The name ‘dragon kiln’ is attributable to the shape and sloping build similar to that of a crouching dragon, the interior is built by laying bricks, and the exterior is welded using clay. The structure of the dragon kiln is divided into three sections: kiln inlet, kiln floor, and kiln outlet. The kiln inlet is built downhill, mainly functioning as the fuel chamber, and is also known as dragon head. The kiln floor is a dome-like vault, and is made up of hoppers for firing ceramics. The chimney where the furnace spread backwards to discharge is the kiln outlet, namely dragon tail. As the operational cost for running a dragon kiln is high, labour-consuming, and has high requirements for pottery firing skills and exquisite control over the temperature used, dragon kilns are gradually replaced by modernized electrical kilns.

At present, two ancient dragon kilns remain at Sin Cheak Seng in Ipoh. According to the person-in-charge Mr Chin Kam Peng, clay mud of high quality could be found along Ipoh’s Jalan Kuala Kangsar in the earlier days. In the golden age of the pottery industry, there were over 60 dragon kilns, globally famous for their excellent pottery. Due to the riverside topography is unable to house the traditional sloping dragon kilns, the potters make changes to suit the circumstances by building flat dragon kilns, which is a feat in itself.

With the diminishing of the pottery industry, abandoned dragon kilns were dismantled one by one, Mr Chin heaved a heavy sigh. Nevertheless in recent years, a few local pottery artists spurred the spirit of crafting wood-fired ceramics. As if awakening the unextinguished dragon kiln fire inside Mr Chin’s heart, employing his amazing skills in kiln-building, he rebuilt two mini dragon kilns using the red bricks from dismantled ancient dragon kilns for the usage of pottery hobbyists, with the hope of promoting the craft of wood-fired pottery.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Evon Pang
Music : Laki from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2018 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Sin Chin Hin

Unity between brothers, having a strong sibling bond. 

The traditional trade of manufacturing stainless steel goods is gradually going downhill, but in an old shop lot at Jinjang, four brothers work under the same roof, each sticking to their own duties. The Yong (transliteration) brothers inherited the family business, and are the third generation managers. Since the establishment of Jinjang village till now, they never relocated, providing their services to this neighbourhood. 

A wide array of stainless steel products are showcased in the shop, from household utensils such as buckets, plates, bottles and cans, to large appliances which are in demand from hawkers and food and beverages operators, as well as offering customization options. The manufacturing process requires particular skills and craft of the smiths, from drawing a blueprint, to cutting a large piece of galvanized iron and hammering it to shape, then converging and soldering each part together to build. Besides, the shop also offers repair services for customers who wish to prolong the usability of their utensils, to achieve reuse and reduce. 

Handmade metal utensils are doubtlessly durable. However, in the 21st century where speed and efficiency comes first, durability is no longer of importance. Moreover, with the prevalence of plastic and its cheap cost, people are getting used to disposable products. The Yong brothers are facing a succession crisis, while their eldest brother retired, the rest of the brothers continue with their busy knocking and striking in the stainless steel store, persevering.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Evon Pang
Music : Reynisfjall from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2018 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD

Kwang Yeow Heng

A kind of salty ocean scent waft through the air, mingled with all sorts of dried seafood. Upon setting foot in Kwang Yeow Heng, the classical 60’s/70’s seafood shop design and furnishing, the wide range of dried seafood neatly arranged from the inside to the outside of the shop, reminding people of old times.

This dried marine goods store located near the Central Market has been operating for over half a century, a well-established brand familiar to the neighbourhood, and is the only marine products specialty store in the area. The founder of Kwang Yeow Heng, Mr Hiah Siak Kee, is a nonagenarian. He recollects the hardships back in the early days while setting up the business, leaving his hometown in Teochew, China to migrate southwards to Malaysia, struggling to survive, being more hardworking than the others, did not dare slack off in the slightest. At present, Kwang Yeow Heng is among the top marine goods stores in Kuala Lumpur, systematic to an extent be it retail or wholesale. They also have their own brand of canned abalone, which is largely popular.

At Mr Hiah’s advanced age, the duty of succeeding Kwang Yeow Heng lies on his son-in-law, Mr Tee Xu Kai (transliteration), bearing witness to the great changes through time. At the moment, people would consider to sell the shop in this expensive city and to enjoy retirement. There are but few traditional stores still remaining to date, which is comforting. By progressing together with the times, only we can remain standing firmly.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Music : John Snow from Felt Music

COPYRIGHTS 2018 ECHINOIDEA SDN BHD