Covid-19: With business down by 40pc, Ipoh lion-and-dragon head maker paces work, takes up drawing

Sylvia Looi
·3-min read
Teh Wing Liang started making lion and dragon heads in after completing his secondary education in 1994. ― Pictures by Farhan Najib
Teh Wing Liang started making lion and dragon heads in after completing his secondary education in 1994. ― Pictures by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Jan 27 ― Chinese New Year has always been the busiest period for lion-and-dragon head maker Teh Wing Liang.

But not this year.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 46-year-old's business has dropped by some 40 per cent as troupes cannot perform due to the movement control order.

Teh, however, is not complaining.

He said the quiet scene has allowed him to pace out his work and even do something extra like taking up painting.

“In previous years when the festivity draws nearer, more orders will come in. I end up being out of breath as I will be perpetually making lion or dragon heads,” said Teh, who employs one full-time staff and two part-timers.

Speaking to Malay Mail when met at his shop at Jalan Bunga Saroja in Taman Melor, Teh said in the past, he would need to bring some of his work back home to be completed to ensure orders are ready by the promised date.

“But this year I don't have to. I can instead indulge in drawing of Chinese gods,” said the father of three children, aged between six and 12 years.

Teh working on a lion head at his shop at Jalan Bunga Saroja in Taman Melor.
Teh working on a lion head at his shop at Jalan Bunga Saroja in Taman Melor.

On how he started on the trade, Teh said he took up repairing of lion and dance heads when he was studying at Shen Jai High School, an independent school in Ipoh.

“I joined the school's lion dance troupe and learned on my own how to repair the lion heads.”

Upon completion of his secondary education in 1994, Teh decided to turn his skills into an occupation.

“Initially, my parents were upset that I chose to make lion and dragon heads as an occupation. They even set me an ultimatum where I have to help them with their business if my business failed to take off.”

“Thankfully, my orders were constant and I managed to get my own shop two years after I started,” he said, adding that he also received orders from overseas such as Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Teh said he needs between four and seven days to complete either one lion or dragon head.

“Normally, the dragon head needs more time due its intricate frames,” said Teh, who uses rattan, bamboo, paper and cloth to make the frames.

After the frames are set, he would design and colour them.

Teh said a set of lion inclusive of the head and the body cost between RM2,600 and RM3,500 while a set of dragon costs between RM5,500 and RM6,200.

Asked on the price difference, Teh said this was after all a work of art.

“The design on all the heads produced by me are distinctly different compared to those imported ones that are mass-produced.”

For more details about Teh's trade, visit his website https://www.facebook.com/ZhongShengLongShiMaoYiyiShuFang

Related Articles China’s virus vigilance trashes travel plans for millions Exercise restraint during CNY activities this year to avoid ‘real risk’ of second circuit breaker, says Singapore PM Lee (VIDEO) China’s peak Lunar New Year air travel season fizzles as Covid-19 cases rise