Yeap Siew Kay with his Duke Hui Ze masterpiece.
With a sharp tool, a sharp sense of beauty and a sharp sense of history, Yeap Siew Kay works to ensure that one of Penang’s important crafts stays alive.
Traditions die hard, but once a traditional artefact or skill is gone, the extant works in that tradition retreat and assume “relic” status. So it is with the works of master craftsmen of traditional trades in places such as Penang if the skills are not passed down to apprentices who are in it for the long haul.
Traditional woodcarver Yeap Siew Kay, still sprightly at 69, realises the vulnerability of such intangible assets. He is willing to share the intricacies and secrets gained from 46 years of experience in cajoling, caressing and chiselling wood.
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