Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage

    Craft of Bamboo Scaffolding






    The craft of scaffolding is one of the chinese "sam hong" (three industries of construction works, namely plastering, woodwork and bamboo scaffolding). The craft is often applied in the construction of buildings and the setting up of work platforms for renovations and repairs, and is an essential part in traditional construction works in Macao.

    Materials used in the craft of scaffolding include bamboo poles (Bambusa pervariabilis McClure and Phyllostachys edulis or moso bamboo), timber of Cunninghamia lanceolata, strips of bamboo skin, palm leaves and bamboo mats (currently the later three are replaced by nylon strips, canvas and nylon mesh). The grid panel is the basis of the bamboo scaffolding; the cantonese technical term for the vertical pole of a grid is pronounced as "zam" (needle), and "hin" for the horizontal pole, and lastly "cheong" for the diagonal pole. Scaffolders do not need to work with a physical construction drawing in hand. Instead, by "using the heart as the drawing, using the eyes as the ruler”, scaffolders guide themselves completely by experience, and adapt each project to the scaffolding site. Due to the flexibility of the craft, several types of bamboo scaffolding have been derived in Macao, with the big structures such as work platforms for buildings which may stretch up to dozens of storeys high, and the small structures like the flower boards or commemorative arches, and also with other examples of audience platforms, swimming sheds, bamboo theatres, etc., embody the remarkable chinese wisdom and creativity in construction works.


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