Walking past the shop Kwok Kee in Yau Ma Tei, you can spot the golden Buddha statue, the spiritual tablet of the Lord of Soil, and the colorful figures of the characters from the folk tale”Journey to the West”… These items sound unrelated to each other, while they are all made of wood and carved by the Kwok Family.
The fifth generation brothers of Kwok Family are running the shop. Mastering the wood carving techniques, they show unique craftsmanship, determination, and talent. It may take more than a week to make a small lion statue. The wood carving technique is recognized as an intangible cultural heritage in Hong Kong. Although the industry is declining, the family manages to pass on the art of handicraft.
Kwok Kee Wood Ware Sculpture is a shop located in Reclamation Street, Yau Ma Tei. It is the last shop in Hong Kong that make hand-carved wooden ritual products.
The shop is now run by the 5th generation brothers of the Kwok family, which has a long history of wood carving from the Zhejiang Province.
The 66-year-old elder brother Kwok Yat-bin carves wooden statues and ritual products outside the shop every day.
The wooden religious figure carving is on the list on the intangible cultural heritage in Hong Kong.
It takes years to master the techniques which require determination and talents.
There are different kinds of knives for wooden carving while they are difficult to find in Hong Kong because of the low demand. The masters have to buy it from the mainland or make the knives by themselves.
Besides statues, many customers ask them for help to make the traditional spirit tablet for ancestors.
The family needs to burn joss paper and offerings everyday where they are working on ritual-related
Different handmade statues of deities and traditional folk tales characters are placed together.
Guan Yu is one of the famous figures worshipped by the Chinese. In Hong Kong, statues of Guan Yu can be found in police offices.
Other than the tablets for the family ancestors, households will also place tablets for specific deities in Chinese folk religion.
The 6th generation Kwok Kin-kwan is still an apprentice learning the skills from his father and uncle to pass on the wood carving handicraft techniques in Hong Kong.