A site visit to the Exhibition Room of Master Lu Ban’s Woodcraft Works in Macao was organised on 6 May 2023. This visit was initiated by Dr. Vicky Chen Zhaoyu for the IFTM course on Intangible Heritage with the assistance of Mr. Vong Heng Cheong, Vice President of Associação Seong Ká Môk Ngai de Macau, Mr. Dicky Ip, the curator and their team in the Exhibition Room.
The purpose of the site visit is to let students learn from the local practices on intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in Macao, as well as to bridge the conversations between the students and the masters who have practised the traditional craftsmanship of Lu Ban’s Woodcraft Works for years. It is a good chance to obtain first-hand information from the practitioners to better understand the significance of safeguarding the ICH.
The site visit is mainly organised in the form of a workshop consisting of three sessions. In the first part, Ms. Kan, the staff working in the Exhibition Room provided a guided tour for the students to have a basic understanding of the brief history of Master Lu Ban (or Lou Pan) and his craftsmanship, and the Exhibition Room.
Followed by Mr. Vong Heng Cheong who further elaborated on the evolution of the traditional craftsmanship of Master Lu Ban, the ritual practices related to Master Lu and their developments in Macao to showcase the value of ICH transmission. In addition, students had taken their own time to discuss the issues of ICH transmission, challenges and opportunities in passing on both Lou Pan Celebrations and Seong Ka Carpentry, which were included in the Inventory of ICH in Macao with Mr. Vong. Mr. Vong also demonstrated two typical carpentry skills to the students, bucket arches, a system of brackets inserted between the top of a column and a crossbeam, and mortise joint, while elaborating the spirit of Master Lu and his brilliant and creative way of inventing such wood carving techniques while constructing traditional Chinese architecture.
As for the third part, Mr. Ip and his team offered students a chance to have hands-on experience in completing simple steps of wood carving in jointing mortise and tenon. With the team’s guidance, all students enjoyed the process, even though they found it challenging to acquire skills in carpentry, they felt great appreciation for the work and skills transmitted by Master Lu, especially their continued applications in the construction industry.
All these practical experiences not only equip students with ideas on intangible cultural heritage practices, but also reinforce their understanding of the uniqueness and values of this traditional craftsmanship. As one of the students Ms. Amelia Li commented that “These interesting stories make Master Lu Ban’s image more vivid in our minds. His wood crafting skills are so exquisite and intelligent…This activity has benefited us a lot, not only because it tells us the traditional craftsmanship by Master Lu, but also allowed us to witness the wisdom of Chinese culture through practices.”
In addition to specialized courses on cultural and heritage management, the Cultural and Heritage Management programme provides undergraduates with access to off-campus activities designed to broaden their horizons. Examples include field trips and lectures with industry experts, giving students precious insights to prepare for a career in the field of cultural heritage.