Bo Wah Paper Craft
Most people think paper craft shops only sell candles and burnt offerings such as paper rolled-ingots. However in 1949 when Au-Yeung Wai Kin (or Uncle Kin), the boss of Bo Wah, arrived in Hong Kong and entered the paper craft trade, he learned to make paper effigies, including festive dance-lion heads and golden dragons. His apprenticeship was completed in three years and he started Bo Wah Paper Craft. In the 1950s and 1960s, Bo Wah enjoyed booming business, but nowadays there are seldom any orders, due to the competitive low prices of mainland imports.
While many paper craft shops closed, Uncle Kin’s second son Au-Yeung Ping Chi used a new technique to succeed his father’s business. Ping Chi would turn to making paper effigies for “modern” things. For example, someone asked for a custom-made paper craft – a bowl of “Hot-and-Sour Noodles”, and Ping Chi delivered a real-to-life creation, of noodles with bean-sprouts and chicken-wings. The chicken-wings were made by casting. Ping Chi paid serious attention to the burnt votive offerings, which convey remembrance from the living world to the departed.
Uncle Kin said, “That bowl of noodles costs several hundred bucks; it must be the most expensive hot-and-sour noodles in the world! But the customers were very satisfied and smiled when they saw their order filled.” It is quite a change, from golden-dragons or dance-lions to hot-and-sour noodles. Ping Chi is perhaps not a true successor to Uncle Kin’s skills, but from the father’s tone, the senior seemed to find comfort from Ping Chi’s innovation, turning a new page for the declining industry of paper craft.