Although the scaffolding did obscure the wider view of the Yap Kongsi Temple in Georgetown, it did provide a glimpse into the process of the chien nien artistry adorning it and many other local Chinese temples.
Literally meaning "cut and paste," chien nien utilizes broken pieces of special porcelain bowls from China. While typically a brilliant glazed color on the outside, the bowl interiors tend to be unglazed, enabling bonding to the cement to be strengthened. The thinner the porcelain, the more desirable the bowls are for this art form. Chien nien can be found in such murals and the often highly decorative rooftops. The technique is also used to cover more sculptural pieces.
A rather fragile art worn down by time and weather, restoration work is a frequent need. Throughout Penang and Melaka, chien nien in various states of repair were noted.