Sunday, 9 September 2012

Penang Story: Silversmith

Chinese woks

There in this town called Balik Pulau, a town on the northwestern coast of the Penang Island, I encountered this little shophouse where a silversmith make his arts and living. His art is not gorgeous painting that you can hang on the wall or precious jewelries that you kept in a treasure box for generation, but he can turn a piece of silver into tiny miniatures - Chinese wok, teapots, old-style-chinese thermos. Mr Fong, or better Sifu Fong is the man behind them.

The Silversmith


He is a treasure in Penang an even well know internationally, being pick up by various publications, newspapers, travel magazine, or blogpost. He even got most of them framed and hang in his shop. A man not particularly humble, but proud of himself and kind enough to show me how his craft my name - the last chinese character of my first name: 宏 (read as hong in Mandarin or hiro in Japanese) out of a tiny piece of silver.





Even a man with those pride, still, I can feel a glimpse of sadness and loneliness in his eyes. At the age of 60s, the delicate nature of the works require much more concentration and energy. When asked if he has any apprentice, he complained about how younger generations failed to pursue craftsmanship that requires years of training while he himself spent more than 10 years polished up the skills.

And fewer and fewer people cares and appreciates the arts. Even locals, often tried to bargains down the price while tourists are willing to travels miles, track him down in this little town and pay full for them.

I can't offer him a word but listened and document the man and his story quietly with my camera.


I glance back once crossed the street, the man sat back inside his counter staring at cars and motors passing emotionlessly at his shopfront. Not long, he pick up the tools, head down and went back to his tiny miniature's world.


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