Oral Traditions and Expressions


Traditions such as folk tales and storytelling that use language to transmit knowledge and express our cultural values.




Malay Sonnets - Pantun Melayu

Malay Poetic Forms

Malay traditional poetic forms in Singapore include pantun (rhyming quatrains), pyair (narrative poetic form), and gurindam (verses of moral instruction).



Peranakan Dondang Sayang

Dondang sayang is a poetic and musical art form performed by the Chinese Peranakans in Singapore and Malaysia, involving the singing of pantun in spontaneous repartee.


Young Songwriters Society poster 1989


The term xinyao (新谣) refers to a repertoire of Mandarin songs composed, written and performed by Singaporeans.



Shadow puppet representing the character Rahwana from Hindu epic Ramayana, as performed in Javanese wayang kulit

Wayang Kulit

Wayang kulit is a form of traditional theatre, consisting of shadow puppet performances.



Tua Pek Kong Temple at Kusu Island

Pilgrimage to Kusu Island

"Kusu Island" is located in the south west of Singapore. Annually, during the 9th month of the Lunar calendar, pilgrims visit the island to make offerings and seek blessings.



We are currently conducting documentation work on the following elements. If you wish to contribute information on these elements, please visit this page.

  • Myths and Stories of Singapore
    Myths and stories of Singapore refer to the legends and folk tales about Singapore. Some of these myths and stories include the story of Sang Nila Utama and the founding of Singapura, the story of the ikan todak (swordfish) attack on Temasek or Singapura (which explains how the names Redhill (Bukit Merah) and Tanjong Pagar came about), and the myth of Badang and the Singapore Stone.

  • Jawi Script
    Jawi is the use of Arabic alphabets to write out the Malay language. It has been replaced by Rumi, or romanised script, since the 1963 Malaysian National Language Act made Roman-style writing the official Malay script. Jawi is still used in religious contexts, such as Islamic studies, and taught in madrasahs (Islamic religious schools), but Malay children in national schools use Rumi to learn Malay.

  • Calligraphy in Arabic Script
    Calligraphy in Arabic script, also known as Khat, is an extension of Jawi. There are various practitioners and schools in Singapore that offer Khat calligraphy classes. As most practitioners in Singapore are Muslims, Khat calligraphy is also known as Islamic calligraphy.

The inventory will be a growing inventory where we will continue to add more intangible cultural heritage elements as well as more research and documentation materials over time.

As at April 2018, the inventory consists of research on 50 elements and more will be added progressively.