A Chinese immigrant invented pewter handicraft in Malaysia in 1885, and today, Malaysia's pewter industry is a multi-million dollar business. The Royal Selangor Factory, which has been creating pewter articles for over a century, is Malaysia's leading manufacturer of pewter, and is the biggest of its kind in the world. Visitors can try their hand at building a pewter dish, or see the largest pewter mug in the world.
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As a museum enthusiast, whenever I go to a new place, whenever I have free time, I will always go search out unique local museums in order to visit for a bit. In this regard, the “Royal Selangor Contemporary Pewter Museum” in Kuala Lumpur certainly is this kind of place, with its own story, and is also a place where one can gain knowledge. It is a museum with a sufficient Local flavor.
Our luck wasn’t bad. In the exhibition hall, I bumped into the granddaughter of the creator of the Royal Selangor Museum, Yang Kun. She enthusiastically explained to us the legendary story about how the Pumpkin Tin Teapot behind her in the showcase once saved someone’s life. This Teapot is the only true article of Mr. Kun in the exhibition hall, which does not seem remarkable, but in fact a true treasure of the museum.
Following the guide into the production workshop, we learned that in the majority of tin object production processes - from blank-making to polishing to carving, the processes all require artisans to manually carry out operations to accomplish the process at hand. Though it does not seem difficult, actually trying to do these things is something completely different. At the “Pewter Pounding work area” we experienced the process for making a tin bowl with our own hands, in the very first step of preparing a round tin plate using a lead board where we would beat in our own name, I did this part wrong twice.
Then, re-using a traditional wood mallet and matrix, the tin plate is slowly beaten so that it becomes a shallow disk shape. Then this is finally exchanged for a somewhat deeper mold and more striking is carried out in order to form the tin bow. According to what was said, this is the earliest process, but it wasn’t simple in any way, and is tightly attuned to skill, technique, and patience. Regardless of whether the tin bowl that we produced in the end is beautiful or not, at least during this handcrafting processes full of clanking sounds, everyone was happy on the inside.
What kind of legend is behind a teapot to save lives? Exploring history, returning to the colonial era of Malaysia, feeling the craze of tinning at that time; making it by hand in the workshop, connecting a story with an ingenuity.