Friday, January 3, 2014

Joss-Stick & Figurine Manufacturing

I jumped off my bus at Teck Ghee Square today. As I was walking around the shopping area I came across a cross eyed, mangy Siamese cat named Ang Meow. She was just waking up from a nap and spotted me. Ang said she was hungry and asked me if I wanted to join her for some of the best duck and rice in Singapore. What a silly is one of my favorite dishes! Her friend Phil served us up a succulent plate of the best fowl I had ever had.

After licking the last of the juices off our whiskers, cross eyed Ang asked me if I wanted to visit a very unique work shop. I was up for an adventure so off we went. A few blocks away we arrived at a long alley of small stalls. There were all sorts of entrepreneurs busily working on their crafts. The most interesting one is called Tay Guan Heng (Joss-Stick Manufactures) which had some of the results of their artisanship drying out front in the sun.

The shop is run by fourth generation, very skilled, workers. Their main source of income is the manufacture of 2 meter high joss sticks used for ceremonies in temples. It is a shame these painstakingly created works of art are made to burn. Once lit, they smolder for 12 to 16 hours.

All of the joss sticks, as well as beautifully hand made figurines, are manufactured utilizing  cinnamon wood. The bark of the tree is where the smell and taste of cinnamon comes from. The rest of the tree is very fibrous. It is ground to a powder which is then mixed with a little water to form a paste. This paste is then spread smoothly over a pole. The artistically formed decorative patterns are then applied to the pole and left to dry in the sun. Once dry, some are left in their natural color and some are brightly painted.

Figurines can be made in any shape a customer wants. Ang told me they are not normally burned. Thank goodness for that!

It was getting late so Ms Meow walked me to my bus stop for my ride home. I thanked her for the wonderful meal and the informative tour of a very special place.

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