KULAI – Chinese New Year is a busy period for Chinese calligrapher, Cheng Ho Chung, 83, because there will be numerous orders for couplets and such with wishes for success, health and wealth.
But this time he has Azizah Mokhsan, 38, to help him fulfil the hundreds of orders.
Cheng said he became friends with Azizah two years ago after she started working in the air con shop next to his in Jalan Raya, Kulai Besar.
“In the beginning she would only watch as I worked on calligraphing paper and tanglung (lanterns).
“Then I began to realise that she had an interest in it so I asked if she would like to become my pupil,” he said.
As she didn’t speak Mandarin, it took Azizah some time to master the art.
“At first I taught her how to hold the brush, then how to do the calligraphy well, and soon she became good at it,” said Cheng, who started his business in 1983 and taught Chinese calligraphy at a few Johor schools from 1988 – 2001.
Azizah said many customers are surprised to learn that a Malay woman would be interested in learning Chinese calligraphy.
“They are also impressed because not many young people are interested in keeping the art alive. In fact, only one of Cheng’s three children is following in his footsteps and teaching Chinese calligraphy,” she said.
Azizah, who is from Kampung Bachang in Melaka, said that in order to better understand and improve her skills, she is attending Mandarin classes.
“Since learning with Cheng, I can understand Mandarin but not fully. That’s why I’ve enrolled in Mandarin classes,” she said.