Man Wa Lane, The 100-year-old Chop Alley in Hong Kong
Over the last three thousand years, seals or chops were very important in China to prove the authenticity of documents and art. Nowadays in Hong Kong, even though handmade chops are fading out in everyday usage, and chop makers are getting less and less, the value of handmade chops remains because of its uniqueness.
Man Wa Lane in Sheung Wan or the ”Chop Alley” called by the locals has over 100 years of history. This is the only place left in Hong Kong with various chop stores together.
Our chop maker friend, Master Ng Kam Chun, who has been in the industry for more than 30 years. To be a chop maker is not an easy task because not only they need to master engraving skills but also study various types of fonts from different dynasties. This may take a decade or more to do that.
To get your own chop, basically there are two steps: pick the chop and think about the design. However it is more complicated than it sounds because each chop is made of different types of materials such as marbles or wood, and each sculpture on the chop has different meanings. At the same time you will need to think of the design of the stamp, whether to stick in or stick out, and the design of the stamp has to match the shape of the chop.
People usually choose their names or their company names to make a chop. If you don’t have a Chinese name, Master Ng will be able to help you.
We asked Master Ng to make a chop with the logo of HONGKONGUIDE.
The way master Ng engraves a chop is, he will first outline the logo, and then carve it from the edge towards the centre.
Master ng’s shop may look small to you, but his work is bigger than you could imagine. One of his proud works can actually be seen everywhere in Hong Kong. It is at the back of a hundred dollars banknote by Standard Chartered Bank released in 2000.
Master Ng has been following a traditional chop making rules for decades. That is "never test the chop, always make the first stamp in front of the client."
Handmade chop is an art because not only it represents the identity of its owner, but also it reflects the effort and skills of its maker. It is worth to go explore chop making at Man Wah Lane and get one for yourself or your friends.
Address: Pun Han Sin Koon, Shop GPT 8, Man Wa Lane, Sheung Wan
Opening hours: 11am-6pm (Mon-Sat). Closed in Sunday and public holiday