7 Artisanal Malaysian Crafts That Are Keeping Penang’s Cultural Heritage Alive


Apart from the variety of delicious foods that Penang has to offer, there is also a thriving ground to a variety of traditional artisans who practise their trades. Many have been around since before Malaysia came into independence! In tradition with keeping Penang’s cultural heritage alive, here are 7 artisanal Malaysian crafts that we think you should know: 


1. Kasut Manek - Peranakan Beaded Shoes 

Photo by Penang Global Tourism/ George Town World Heritage Incorporated via Facebook 


The Kasut Manek is a Peranakan footwear with its muka kasut (shoe cover) made entirely of hand stitched beads. Usually paired with the colourful Nyonya Kebaya, the combination of the two makes for an elegant display of the Nyonya artistry. You can shop for these beauties at Armenian Street in the heart of Georgetown itself! 


Handmade Nyonya Beaded Shoes
Address: 4 Lebuh Armenian, George Town
Operating Hours: Daily, 9:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.


2. Hand-Woven Rattan Wares 

Photo by @afroditedomok via Instagram


With an array of rattan and bamboo products for sale, Seang Hin Leong is one of the few remaining shops in Malaysia maintaining the craft rattan weaving. The store has been passed down for generations - the current store owner is the fifth generation to have kept up with this craft. It is no wonder that the store was named ‘Living Heritage of Penang’ by Penang Heritage Trust in the year 2009! 


Seang Hin Leong
Address: 393 Lebuh Pantai, George Town
Operating Hours: Daily except for Sunday and Public Holidays, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.


3. Artisanal Handmade Songkok 

Photo by @calvincheongartworks via Instagram


Despite most songkok providers now opting for modern machinery, Haja Mohideen Mohammed Shariff continues his father’s legacy as a songkok maker. The store has been operating since 1936. Every songkok is still made the traditional way - from trimming the velvet to stitching the base together, with love and care! Some of his most acclaimed customers include the Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin and the former prime minister of Malaysia Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. 


Kedai Songkok OSM Mohd Shariff
Address: 157 Lebuh King, George Town
Operating Hours: Daily except for Sunday and Public Holidays, 10:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.


4. Flower Garlands 

Photo by Penang Global Tourism/ George Town World Heritage Incorporated via Facebook 


Tucked in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, right next to Goddess of Mercy temple, be awestruck by the dangling flower garlands commonly made for altar offerings at Hindu temples! It takes a master craftsman about 5 minutes to complete a simple garland made from Jasmines, and up to 20 minutes using an assortment of flowers. Each flower has its own meaning and garlands are made specifically for different occasions - including weddings, funerals, prayers or even as gifts!  


Address: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (next to Goddess of Mercy Temple), George Town
Operating Hours: Daily, 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.


5. Trishaw Maker 

Photo by HPL Hotels & Resorts 


You definitely won’t be able to miss out on the sight of trishaws whilst roaming around Georgetown! While this form of transportation may not be the norm anymore, historical cities like Georgetown and Malacca still utilise them as tourist attractions. The last standing trishaw maker in Georgetown, Mr Choo Yew Choon, not only creates and maintains these wondrous contraptions of the past - he also spends his time fixing bicycles, pushcarts, and also mobile hawker stalls. 


Hup Huat Tricycle and Bicycle Repair
Address: 5 Jalan Pintai Tali, George Town
Operating Hours: Daily, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.


6. Hand-carved Wooden Signboards 

Picture by Sam Fong via The Edge


Often seen at shop entrances and old houses, traditional Chinese signboards are often carved in gold calligraphy mentioning the surnames of the shop owner or families, or auspicious Chinese verses. In Penang, Mr. Lee Chee Cheng is considered a master craftsman of signboard making - usually selling one plaque at a price of up to RM2000. His creations are made from local Jelutong wood and gold leaf imported from China, and are hand-made with care. 


Sung Dynasty Wood Carving
Address: 77, Lebuh Carnavon, 10100 George Town, Penang.  
Operating Hours: Daily, 10.00am - 5.00pm 


7. Kapok Pillows And Mattresses 

Photo by George Town World Heritage Incorporated 


A soft and silky natural fibre extracted from the Kapok tree, Kapok has been used to fill up pillows, bolsters, and even mattresses for generations in Malaysia. It also has cooling and hypoallergenic qualities, which makes it perfect for those who prefer sleeping without aircon and have sensitive skin! At Chin Huat, up to 10 Kapok pillows are made a day by hand, and is one of the few places in Malaysia that focuses on this trade the old-fashioned way! 


Chin Huat
Address: 78 Lebuh Cintra, George Town
Operating Hours: Daily except for Sundays and Public Holidays, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Want a Kapok pillow of your own? Check out our Shopee site selling traditional handmade items featuring Penang’s very own Kapok pillows and bolsters: https://bit.ly/33VY3gI


Check out our other Makan Angin packages or take a look at our full list here!

3D2N Cuti-Cuti Penang

Trishaw Heritage Trail