Knowledge and Practices concerning Nature and Universe

Knowledge and Practices concerning Nature and Universe

Knowledge, skills, practices and representations developed by communities through interactions with and/or involving the natural environment.




Tin tray with advertisement for Axe brand medicated oil

Making Chinese Medicated Oils and Ointments

Medicated oils are an aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a stream of medicine rooted in the Chinese philosophy of balance between the forces of yin and yang.



Urut Lady

Traditional Malay Medicine

Traditional Malay Medicine includes the indigenous knowledge of healing and use of medicine. It includes practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal, and mineral-based medicine to maintain health or to prevent illnesses.



Herbs and spices used in Ayurveda


The practice of Ayurveda medicine in Singapore is a celebrated form of Indian medicine, with its roots in ancient Sanskrit sources.



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

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
    Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is a stream of medicine based on treatments like acupuncture and herbal medicine. With its origins in Chinese philosophical beliefs of maintaining the balance of the body to prevent illness, it is popular amongst the Chinese community in Singapore as a means of treating various illnesses.

  • Kolam and Rangoli
    Kolam and rangoli are drawings made out of rice flour in front of the entrance of Hindu dwellings by women. They are drawn in preparation for festivals such as Deepavali and Pongal to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity. The designs of these drawings range from geometric shapes to include animals, flowers and fruit.

  • Rearing Songbird
    Rearing songbirds is a hobby typically enjoyed by the older generation. There are various bird-singing corners in Singapore where practitioners gather with their birds for informal singing competitions. The birds are of various breeds, but the most popular one is the zebra dove, also known as merbok.

  • Orchid Breeding
    The Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore’s first orchid hybrid, was bred by Miss Agnes Joaquim in 1893. It soon became popular all over the world as a cut flower due to its beauty and hardiness. Orchids are bred by the Singapore Botanic Gardens and by orchid farms in Singapore, but hobbyists cultivate orchids in their own homes using equipment like LED lights, nutrients and air-conditioning to simulate the cooler temperatures needed for them to grow and flourish.

  • Traditional Chinese Beliefs and Practices about Birthing Process
    Traditional beliefs and birthing practices of the Chinese community include practices like the confinement period (zuo yue, 坐月) after birth where mothers stay indoors for 30 days(man yue满月), and the celebration of the 30th day (man yue满月) of the baby’s birth by giving friends and relatives eggs that have been dyed red, while receiving gifts of gold jewellery or cash in red packets on behalf of the baby.

  • Traditional Malay Beliefs and Practices about Birthing Process
    Traditional beliefs and birthing practices of the Malay community include a 44-day confinement period after delivery, during which a masseuse helps mothers wear the bengkung, a long cloth wrapped tightly from the torso to hips to help the mother’s body return to its pre-pregnancy shape. The baby also receives massages and a barut (stomach wrap) (to keep its stomach warm. At the end of the confinement period, parents have a cukur rambut (hair-shaving) ceremony which marks their baby’s first haircut.

  • Traditional Indian Beliefs and Practices about Birthing Process
    Traditional beliefs and birthing practices of the Indian community include a 40-day confinement period, a diet of herbs and hot foods like ghee in order to dispel “wind” and improve blood circulation, the wrapping of the stomach and hips for both baby and mother, the wearing warm clothes and avoiding certain activities like housework.

  • Indian Fortune Telling
    Parrot astrology is a trade practiced by Indian fortune tellers in Singapore. As part of the fortune telling process, the fortune teller will ask for the customer’s name, after which the fortune teller will use a parrot, usually a green parakeet, to pick one card out of 27 cards based on the Indian cosmic system and interpret the card for the customer.

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.