21 Aug Keeping the Rattan Weaving Art Alive
Of rocking chairs, baskets, tables and birdcages neatly woven with rattans utilising them as furniture, handicrafts and other relevant materials; these are real evidence of a diminishing trend. Those were the days where our ancestors frequently used rattans as it is made of strong solid stems that are lightweight, durable and easily bend. It is widely known as a naturally renewable palm that has been an essential part to produce rattan remains abundant and is a sustainable resource.
The making of these crafts is similar to the use of jute, as finished products made of rattans are required to be soaked in water, ensuring a tighter and firm outcome once the rattan shrinks. Take a good look around you to find chairs, baskets, birdcages and other relevant household items that once were made of rattan, unfortunately today they have been replaced with steel or plastic products.
This dying art of rattan weaving is surprisingly still available in Penang though it is relatively scarce! While Penangites can still purchase rattan furniture in George Town from rattan weavers who made them from scratch, it is crucial to keep this art alive for the younger generations to appreciate and preserve it.
Located along the row of heritage houses at Beach Street, Seang Hin Leong produces a wide range of furniture to be exported to Kuala Lumpur and Kedah. Shop owner, Sim Chew Poh claimed that the family runs the crafting business since some five decades ago. Meanwhile, Lee Soo Kee Rattan is only a one-man show that produces large furniture by himself. Lee, amazingly, relies heavily on sunlight to weave his collection of furniture, all done by him at his shop at Chulia Street. One can find skilled veteran rattan weavers at the George Town, whom each provide various products.
Visit these two experienced rattans weavers’ veterans at their shops below:
Seang Hin Leong
10300 George Town, Penang.
Lee Soo Kee Rattan
10200 George Town, Penang.