Monday, August 20, 2007

Carving the Palauan culture and history

The constant noise produced from the eternal pounding and hammering from the second floor of this shop will make one think it’s a furniture shop but you’re wrong. It’s one establishment that produces storyboards, one of the unique features Palau has to offer the world.
Tebang’s woodcarving shop, located at the Topside Koror is one place where artists pour their heart and soul fashioning a scrap of wood into works of art that would later find their places in from all over the world. Inabo’s Woodcarving Shop has played a big role in preserving the culture and history of the Palauans.
Ling Inabo, owner of Tebang Woodcarving said he had been carving wood for as long as he can remember, even before he put up his shop way back in 1998.Inabo went to Houston, USA where he enrolled in Hotel and Restaurant course but the lure of carving wood was in his blood. “I have always loved to carve. I quit school and found satisfaction in what I always loved to do, ,” Inabo said.
He spends six days a week inside his shop polishing his talent to depict the Palauan way of life, the country’s culture and history and capture it on wood. On Sundays he and his staff rest from work to spend time for their families and other interests.
All of Inabo’s designs are unique from each other.“There’s no duplicate copy for each design because I fashion and design them as soon as the inspiration hits me,” Inabo said.
“Like any other artist who paints or does sculptures, I get my inspiration from my environment, like underwater inspiration and everyday life. I go fishing and diving and that’s how I am able to transfer the underwater scenes on wood,” he said.
Inabo said nothing can equal the satisfaction he gets from watching the subjects he carved in the pieces of scrap wood spring to life. The satisfaction doubles up when tourists or local customers buy the wood carving and brings it home with them.
Inabo said he draws the designs on the wood and let his four other staff carve the storyboard. He and his staff finish an average of 10 story boards a week and these are all displayed in his store under his shop.
Tebang’s products are sold locally and are only displayed in his store because they can hardly meet the demands for the storyboards but most of his customers are tourists. Ling however envisions an expansion for his business in the next five years.
“I would like to expand my shop, train up more people to carve wood and storyboards, have a bigger display store and come up with more wood products aside from storyboards,” Ling said. He is also keen on exporting his products to other countries as a means of showcasing Palau to the world.
Ling said he used to teach wood carving classes during his spare time at the PCC before, and in his shop. Tebang woodcarving shop is the only wood carving shop in town where anybody is free to come and take a look at the woodcarvers at work, take photos or just observe them.
Ling said he has a special collection that he gains satisfaction just by looking at them which he does not plan to sell.One of Ling’s masterpiece and the biggest storyboard he ever carved is placed inside the Bank of Hawaii. It extends from one wall to the other, depicting stories of the people in Palau long time ago. Clients can also place their orders for storyboards and if they want a specific design, Ling is just too happy to oblige.

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