The Carpenter's Guild is one of the oldest trades association located at 70 Love Lane, George Town. It was established by carpenters and brick layers who were mostly Cantonese of the Sing Leng sub-dialect group and dedicated to the patron saint of the Cantonese tradesmen, Lo Pan, literally "North Duke", and was called Lo Pan Hang. Despite the English translation of the name as "carpenter's" guild, the association actually encompass all types of craftsmen.

     It was founded in the year 1850. The original premise was at 5 Lebuh Penang where the starting point for craftsmen and builders - to be noted, mostly Cantonese - who arrived in Malaysia, whether to stay permanently or on a limited-time contract, as artisans for temples and clan houses. 

     The guild house has quarters for contractors, who go out to look for contracts, and the craftsmen, who execute the jobs. As those who brought in the business are considered to have the "tougher" job, they were rewarded with better living quarters, on the front part of the guild house.

     The craftsmen, who comprised the masters and their apprentices, had to make do with the more crowded apartments in the back. The crafts are handed down from masters to apprentices and a trainee wanting to become a craftsman had to undergo a three-year apprenticeship, during which time he is only paid with meals and board.

      Nowaday, the temple called Lo Pan Ku Miau, or North Duke's Old Temple, was built in year 1865, and continues to function today as the guild house. However, the function of craftsmen guild houses diminished with the advent of modern building techniques, so that the ancient crafts needed to repair and restore many of the clan temples in Penang could no longer be sourced locally. Today the Carpenter's Guild exists more as a throw back to a past time than that of a functioning guild.

 


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