Beautiful Malay Art: 12+ Famous Pieces

Malay art (or kesenian Melayu in the Malay language) is a type of traditional art that has become a national treasure of Malaysia. What sets it apart from others is that it has masterfully and creatively managed to reflect the realities of Malaysia’s culture, beliefs, traditions, and society. Want to learn more?

In today’s post, we will discuss the history and distinct details related to this type of art. Towards the end of the post, we also compiled some of the famous works from this country so that you can check these out for yourself these pieces. If you are ready for that, then keep reading below!


History Of Malay Art

It is not incorrect to say that many people are drawn to the idea of owning a work of art. The concept has been around for a long time and is still gaining popularity today. Perhaps, you landed on this post because you probably want to own one from a Malay artist too! To help you understand Malay art better, here’s a quick rundown of its history.

Traditional Malaysian art has been around for a long time. Its weaving and associating techniques are traditionally used to create such items as Malay textiles, clothing, woodwork, and metalwork. It has been developed over thousands of years and is one of the oldest art forms in the world. Curious to see lists of outstanding artworks from Malaysia? Let’s get started!

12 Famous Malay Art


Malay Handicrafts


Malaysian batik will undoubtedly be Malaysia’s most visually appealing art form representing cultural diversity. You might have to spend hours picking out these colorful, traditional, tie-dye floral patterns. Batik is a fabric made from hand-dyed wax and dyes. It is sometimes made of cotton, but it is also made of silk. Besides its long history, batik is one of the contemporary art forms that can be adapted into many types of products, such as bags, scarves, table linen, wall hangings, etc.

Leaf Origami

This Malay art is continuously active in many indigenous tribes, especially among Mah Meri people. Unlike the origami of the Japanese people, this one is usually done using leaves from the silver leaf plant. There are many different ways that this art is done. For example, the leaves can be created into different shapes, such as butterflies, or leaves can be folded into a specific shape, such as a rose. When you make your own origami, you will also be able to explore the different ways to create your own leaf origami.

Malay pottery

In Malaysia, ceramic pottery is a popular form of art. Many artists in the country have been creating pottery for centuries. The different types of Malay pottery are different and unique in their own ways. The different types of Malay pottery include Laby Sayong, Mambong, and Terenang.

Traditional Signboards

A signboard is a type of advertising medium used to promote a company’s or brand’s products and services. They are hand carved by local craftsmen who possess the skills to create words on a wooden signboard that is both beautiful and highly functional. It has been traditionally used in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.


Calligraphy is a visual art form of writing or painting with ink or brushes. In Malaysia, there are both Islamic Calligraphy and Chinese calligraphy. They’re used for religious purposes, as well as for decorative purposes in a variety of areas.

Famous Malay Art, Lantern


Malaysian Chinese lanterns are called “tanglung” in the Malay language. The traditional vibrant lanterns are often used in celebrations such as weddings, births, and New Year in Malaysia and Singapore. The lanterns usually don different patterns with symbolism depending on the occasion.

Rattan Weaving

In Southeast Asia, rattan products can be seen anywhere, including Malaysia. It’s a traditional art that is functional. By weaving the rattan into patterns, you can make baskets and even furniture.


It’s a golden thread applied to many products, such as clothing, boxes, pillow, etc. This art helps elevate items to a higher level of luxury.


It’s a traditional Malaysian kite that has become one of the country’s symbols. The kite’s body has decorative designs in vivid colors with some parts made of transparent paper. Though you don’t like flying a kite, this can perfectly decorate your house.

Nyonya Beadwork

Embroidery originated in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. The word “nyonya” is a Malay and Indonesian term for foreign married women. This distinctive art form is achieved through precise needlework.

Boat Building

It’s both surprising and sad to learn that boat building has slowly faded from Malaysia, a country surrounded by a beautiful sea. Each boat is expertly handcrafted from high-quality wood.

12 Famous Malay Art, Malay Dance


Malay Dance

Mak Yong

A traditional dance is one of the UNESCO masterpieces of humanity’s oral and intangible heritage. It’s a Malay dance that is mainly performed for entertainment.

Kuda Kepang

This is known as a wonderful Javanese dance with a flat horse that originated from the south of the Malay Peninsula. It’s reserved to perform on special occasions.

Wayang Kulit

It’s shadow puppetry with folk tales, a perfect combination of storytelling and beautiful flat wooden puppets.



Malay art is a part of Malaysia’s cultural identity because it covers various creative expressions of the Malay people, including music, dance, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, and many more. After looking more closely at these Malay traditional art forms, you should realize how many incredible artisans play an essential role in representing Malay culture. We hope you found it helpful and can use some of the information in your language learning.


Learn Malay With The Ling App

Learn Malay with The Ling App

Art is like learning other languages in the sense that it has no boundaries. So, tell me, what exactly are you worried about when it comes to learning the Malay language? If you are on the search for the best language resource, the Ling App is one of the most convenient and enjoyable ways to learn Malay. The app has everything you’ll ever need, with vast units covering all topics you require!

Does that sound inspiring? So download the Ling App from the Google PlayStore and Apple AppStore now, and prepare to be fluent in Malay very soon!

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