Penang Heritage Tip :: Lu Ban Old Temple aka Carpenters’ Guild

Address: 70 Love Lane, George Town.

During the 19th Century, every Chinese craftsman who came to Malaya, would first call at the Loo Pun temple in Penang before setting out to other states to seek work. The Carpenters’ Guild was first established in 1801 at a shophouse in Penang Street. In 1886, the guild moved to its current premises in Love Lane.

The Guild is also known in Chinese as the “Loo Pun” temple for worship of the deity Loo Pun. An alumnus of sorts for early local Chinese carpenters, who crafted many Straits Chinese and colonial-era furniture, it was a place for catching up and for leisurely activities.

Lo Pan, a carpenter, philosopher, military thinker and statesman, is said to have invented many kinds of construction equipment and building tools, like the cloud ladder (a mobile counterweighted siege ladder), grappling hooks and ram (boat implements used in naval warfare) and the wooden horse carriage. Some say he was China’s equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci. The invention of many basic tools used by carpenters is attributed to him.

From the outside, the Carpenters’ Guild, or Lo Pan Hong, heritage building may not be much to shout about, but it does house very precious cultural treasures – old sedan chairs made about 140 years ago during the Qing Dynasty.

The sedan chairs are kept under lock and key but visitors can still have a glimpse of history as there are many other antiques, including wooden boards and religious weapon replicas, also made more than a century ago.

Back then, devotees and mediums carrying the old wooden banners and religious paraphernalia would precede the deities in the sedan chairs during religious processions.

An interesting sight to note is the mural above the doorway where the God of Longevity is depicted wearing a pair of spectacles! The chai men (an intricate three-dimensional carving featuring scenes from ancient Chinese folklore and palace life) that hangs in the main hall is another precious piece of history as it is unique to the Cantonese community’s heritage.

The building itself underwent some minor restoration work in 2000 after five years of fund-raising. The Loo Pun Hong Restoration Project was completed in 2001.

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GPS Coordinates: 5°25’8.09″N 100°20’10.77″E Geotag Icon Show on map