Demand for dragon and lion heads still exists

Survival of the fittest: Teh building a lion head frame in Pasir Pinji, Ipoh. — RONNIE CHIN/The Star

IPOH: Artisan Teh Wing Liang, who makes dragon and lion heads for the Chinese New Year season, has seen a 50% drop in orders this year during the movement control order.

However, orders from countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and as far as Britain have not stopped.

Teh, 46, who learnt the trade at the age of 15, said with Chinese New Year celebrations going on in other countries, the demand for these items was still there.

“In Malaysia, with the MCO announced in almost all states now, orders have declined. However, Chinese associations that have made orders prior to the MCO have collected the items, ” he said at his workshop in Pasir Pinji.

He said with open houses and house visits probably not allowed during Chinese New Year this year, the “lion and dragons” would have to take a break.

He also said that with fewer orders this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he had the time to make decorative items for companies and eateries as well.

“Using the same concept as making the lion and dragon head, I am currently also taking in orders to make a frame of ‘mosquitoes’ for a company selling mosquito nets, as well as a decorative piece of a dragon head for a restaurant.

“Besides that, I also make fish and phoenix heads for cultural performances, and paint posters of Chinese gods, ” he added.

Teh uses rattan, bamboo, paper and cloth to make the framework, and it takes him between five and seven days to make one head.

He said he picked up the trade during his school days when he was a member of a lion dance association assigned to repair broken lion and dragon heads.

“Then, I thought to myself, why not I start making these items myself, and I kept on trying with the help of a senior in the industry until I got it right.

“So, since 1986, I have been seriously involved in the business until today, ” he said, adding that he was probably the only full-time artisan involved in the business in Ipoh.

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dragon , lion heads , Chinese New Year , MCO


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