Exhibition of Macao Religious Figure Carving Opens at Macao Museum :
    A Step Forward in Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection


    Ingenious Woodwork - Macao Religious Figure Carving, an exhibition organised by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government and the Macao Museum, will have its opening ceremony in the Macao Museum at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, 4th December 2008. The exhibition will be open to the public from 5th December 2008 to 5th April 2009. It is hoped that this exhibition will disseminate the message of Intangible Cultural Heritage protection to as wide an audience as possible.

    Religious figure carving is a time-honoured art in Macao. In the 1920s and 1930s, it reached its zenith as fishing became a pillar industry in Macao's economy and religious figures became both popular and mandatory for worship and prayer. The hundred-year-old traditional handicraft has passed through various stages of development although it has been in decline for some time. Fortunately, it has survived the impact of modernisation. These days, this fine wood carving art is undergoing substantial development through continual innovation.

    In order to protect this valuable traditional handicraft, the Museum established a task force to survey the status of religious figure carving in Macao. The task force drafted, compiled and submitted the application for its listing as an intangible cultural heritage in 2007, which was, on completion of verification, inscribed on the National Intangible Cultural Heritage List by the State Council on 14th June 2008.

    The exhibition displays some 85 exhibits, including carved figures from Buddhist, Taoist and Chinese folk beliefs. Carving tools, wood samples and historical data are also featured to enable a better understanding of the religious beliefs of the fishermen and people of Macao. The foregoing exhibits were all made in Macao. Some reside in the Macao Museum while others loaned by the Tai Cheong Wood Engraving Co., the Lin Fong Temple Charity Management and Fishermen’s Mutual Help Association of Macao.

    In addition to the exhibition, an education zone has been set up for local residents and visitors to be better informed about the historical features of religious figures; and a workshop will be conducted by Mr. Tsang Tak Hang, an expert on the religious figures of Macao, in the lecture hall of the Macao Museum from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on 7th December, to which citizens are welcome. Admission tickets to the workshop are limited and as such will be available on a first-come-first-served basis. To register, interested parties should call Miss Lee on (853) 8394-1231 during office hours or visit the website of the Cultural Affairs Bureau at or the website of the Macao Museum at

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