Assignment Asia: Keeping traditional trades alive in a UNESCO heritage city
Being granted UNESCO World Heritage status is prestigious, but it can also be a double-edged sword. For the heritage city of George Town, Penang, Malaysia – chosen for its outstanding architectural and cultural attributes – it has saved historic buildings from demolition, and imposed rules to ensure careful renovations are restorations using traditional methods and materials. But UNESCO World Heritage status has also driven up rents and encouraged gentrification, and endangered the traditional crafts and trades that make it a living, breathing historic city. Many traditional crafts people like wood carvers, sign makers, joss stick makers, lantern makers, puppeteers and others had already found it hard to convince their children or the next generation to learn their skills despite the heritage agencies in Penang doing what they can through recognition such as "Living Heritage" awards and stipends. Find out what's being done to keep traditional trades like wood craving, seal engraving, and arts like Potehi puppetry alive.