Master of a precious legacy Lion-head maker does not want the younger generation lose touch with culture

MASTER Siow Ho Phiew produces about 500 lion heads for sale locally and overseas every year.

He said that creating the lion dancing heads was very much a labour of love.

“I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to marry my career with something that I continue to be passionate about,” he said.

Siow held an exhibition recently in Jalan Tan Hiok Nee (Heritage Walk) here in conjunction with the 8th Johor Baru Arts Festival, and shared experience with a crowd of about 100 people.

“Ever since I was young I have been fascinated by art and culture. I even remember one time when I missed my bus and had to walk home because I was watching a lion dance performance,” he recalled.

He said his workers were able to produce about two lion heads every day, but would need at least a week if it was being done individually as each step required utmost care.

“Throughout the years I have faced many hardships and pitfalls, but the important thing is to be able to accept challenges and learn from failures,” he said, adding that success would not come without hard work and determination.

Siow, who has been teaching lion dance for 30 years, is the coach of the world-renowned Kun Seng Keng troupe from Muar.

He was recognised as an accomplished craftsman during the National Craft Day 2011.

“People often tell me that my lion heads are the best, but that does not mean that there is no room for improvement. We should never rest on our laurels,” he said.

Siow said it was important to promote the art of making lion heads and other cultural and artistic pursuits, as they would die out if not preserved.

“The younger generation must be exposed to history, culture and art if we do not want to lose these rich and meaningful traditions,” he said.

He lauded the Heritage Walk for continuously organising Chinese cultural activities, saying that such efforts enriched the lives of the people and were rare in Malaysia.

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