Penang Happenings | Clacking Sound Haunts the Hallway
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Clacking Sound Haunts the Hallway

Familiar clacking sound used to haunt empty hallways of the long heritage houses in Penang and Malacca. Those were the days of attraction-grabbing method as its surface collides with the floor when the footwear was constantly worn at homes. The gone but never forgotten traditional clogs also known as “kah kiak” in Hokkien and “terompah” in Bahasa, is made of wood, later painted in red, and red plastic uppers as the wood is nicely cut and shaped into various size footwear by skilled clog makers.

The traditional practice of wearing clogs at home can be traced back to the 70s during the Dutch colonial that brought them to Malacca and Penang. Commonly used among the local folks of Baba Nyonya, Chinese, Malay and Indian, clogs are worn in the bathroom, toilets and around the kitchen area before rubber slippers took over the common custom. Each pair of clog has a distinct metal knobs screwed against the red plastic on both sides.

Uniquely, clogs painted in red adorned with flowers were often used during Chinese weddings to decorate the brides’ rooms. According to ancient Chinese belief, clogs play a crucial part in the wedding, bringing good fortune to the groom’s family. Regrettably, the vanishing sight of the tradition seems to be a remarkable fact that it may not last as long as it could.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Penang now has only two clog makers left, each situated at the island and mainland respectively. Professional clog maker from Bukit Mertajam, Tan Yang Ling started from scratch at the age of 12 to learn making clogs and with 56 years of experience, he produces 40 to 50 clogs a day. Apart from making plain clogs, Tan has a row of clogs on his shelf that are red in colour with flowers design. Another experienced clog maker at Siam Road, Eng Ai Tee makes miniature sized clogs and has tailor-made clogs for adults and children. Passionate in making these traditional clogs, Eng sells the handmade miniature clogs as souvenirs in her shop.

Location of workshop(s):

Eng Ai Tee
30C Siam Road,
10140 Penang.

Tan Yang Ling
Located at a corner behind a row of shophouses at Jalan Dandy in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.