Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng

(b. China, 1914 - d. Penang 2008)

Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng was hailed as the “Master of Batik” by Frank Sullivan, who wrote in an essay titled Teng, Master of Batik that was published on September 24, 1963: “The evolution of batik painting did not come easily to Teng but it is a natural result of a wandering and varied life. He came to Malaya 27 years ago from Amoy. He has trundled a stall as a hawker, manufactured paper, planted tapioca. He has been a shopkeeper, a baker, an umbrella maker, a cook, an import and export trader, a designer of cloth, a maker of sarongs, and is now a schoolteacher. Throughout all these adaptable years of his life he has always been an artist.” Teng held his first solo exhibition organised by the Penang Arts Council at the Penang Library in 1955 with the help of Datin Patricia Lim Pui Huen, President, Library Association of Singapore (1968 – 1969). His batik paintings encapsulate the soul of Malaya: beautiful illustrations of idyllic kampung life, Malay women and children, as well as farmers and animals. His legacy lives on through his sons: Chuah Siew Teng, Chuah Seow Keng and Chuah Siew Kek who are also batik artists based in Penang.