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Penang Heritage of Rattan Weaving is an art of its own at Seang Hin Leong

Heritage in Penang is diverse and out-reaching, as Zac Teo explores. Perhaps a dying trade that comes as a price for modernization, rattan weavers and their products are not as popular as a staple as they once were, however there is still appreciation for its artistry today.

Heritage and culture has almost been the mainstay of Penang and never is it symbolized better than the rattan weaving art at Seang Hin Leong. Passed down from generation to generation, this shop is currently in its 4th generation of ownership under Sim Chew Poh. Already in his 50's, Sim Chew Poh is guided non other than the 3rd generation owner - Sim Buck Teik. When further conversing with them, they shared that the original owner is actually from China who immigrated over to Malaya in the early 1920's in search of better life opportunities. 

Living Heritage Treasure in George Town Penang
Rattan Baskets completed and on display at Seang Hin Leong. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Seang Hin Leong situated in Beach Street in George Town Penang offers a myriad collection of items made of rattan and wicker, from bird cage to stools, trays, baskets, even rocking chairs and toys. The main products that Seang Hin Leong offers are rattan baskets, handicrafts, rattan furniture and also traditional food covers. Carefully crafted by Sim Chew Poh and Sim Buck Teik, each product is hand woven and usually takes about one to two days to create.

Beautiful rattan chair on display, is it a furniture item or a work or art? Photograph: Zac Teo/

Upon exploring the shop and taking in the historical value of it all, you would have an odd sense of calmness when admiring all these hand made items. The owner shares that their customers are mostly tourist visiting Penang, with their top sellers being the rattan baskets and furniture. Occasionally, they do still get orders and purchases from locals, mainly of the older generation, for items such as rattan chairs and racks.

A collection of rattan weaved items adorning the interior of the shop. Photograph: Zac Teo/

Running for many generations, the business has been awarded  for their invaluable contribution to the cultural heritage of Penang. The 3rd generation owner, Sim Buck Teik was awarded the Living Heritage Treasure of Penang 2009 for his life-long efforts in maintaining this beautiful legacy in Penang. When asked in regards to refurbishment or expansion, Sim was very humble in stating that there aren't any great business expansion plans or even renovating his shop. 

The Living Heritage recognition award to the 3rd generation owner Sim Buck Teik. Photograph: Zac Teo/

For those who would like to flock by to observe the masters in action, or even to admire their rattan creations, do head over to Seang Hin Leong located in Beach Street. Sight-seeing of a different kind, do take this opportunity to watch them weave before this industry leaves!

This shop is located on 393, Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai), 10300 Penang. For telephone inquiries, do give them a call at 04-261 3748. They are usually open daily, as their rest day is not confirmed by the owners.

Zac Teo

Zac Teo

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