Incense for the Gods
Handmade Joss Stick Maker Lee Beng Chuan
Lorong Muda (off Stewart Lane), George Town.
At the ripe old age of 79, Lee Beng Chuan remains dedicated to his craft of making joss sticks for the Gods.
Unlike the modern sawdust and chemical joss sticks, his emit a very fragrant smell because he uses quality sandalwood imported from Western Australia for his handmade joss sticks.
He prepares the joss stick dough by mixing the sandalwood powder with water. Then, he would carefully mould them onto the thin bamboo sticks that are then left on a wooden rack to dry.
Once ready, a roller board would be used to smoothen the surfaces before the joss sticks are left to dry under the scorching sun for two long days.
When he was younger, Lee was famous for his intricate “dragon head” joss sticks but these days, he keeps the traditional trade alive by making joss sticks of different sizes as well as decorative and souvenir sandalwood items for tourists.
Though he doesn’t rely on the business to earn a living, Lee enjoys showing off his skill to curious visitors and students.
These days, his joss sticks are only produced for local customers who would never settle for the mass-produced versions that are nowhere near as fragrant as his special incense sticks for the Gods!