12 Feb 2021 - 28 Feb 2021

Whole day

Getting Here


ACM is a 5-minute walk from Raffles Place MRT Station (Exit H) 




Many Asian communities all over the world will be ushering in the Year of the Ox on 12 February, which according to the lunar calendar marks the beginning of a new year. The Lunar New Year is an important Asian festival and Singapore observes the first two days as public holidays; this year, they fall on 12 and 13 February. Explore the galleries in the Asian Civilisations Museum and discover objects from our collection themed to the Year of the Ox as well as auspicious motifs in this self-guided trail.


  1. FIND the object with the floorplan provided.
  2. LOOK closely at the objects using the guiding questions. 
  3. READ the object labels in the gallery for answers. 
  4. CLICK on the provided links to explore more about the object at home with our digital resources.


Tour duration: Approximately 45-minutes  



Lobby -> Level 1 Maritime Trade -> Level 2 Scholars -> Level 3 Fashion & Textile -> Level 3 Ceramics  

  • Object 1 – Water dropper in the form of a boy on a cow

    From the lobby, walk through the Museum Label shop, past the Singapore Archaeology gallery, and into the Maritime Trade gallery. Look to your left for a showcase displaying Chinese ceramics in Southeast Asia. There is a grated door nearby.

    LNY - Trail1

    Water Dropper

    Water dropper in the form of a boy on a cow 

    China, 13th or 14th century 



    Maritime Trade gallery

    What do you think this water dropper was used for?

    - Who might have used it?

    - Why did the ceramicist choose to make a cow?


    This water dropper may have been used by a literate Chinese. Containers like this, in many different shapes, are used to carefully add water needed to prepare ink for calligraphy or painting. Ink came in solid sticks or cakes and had to be mixed with water to liquify it before use.


    Chinese scholars valued the beauty of nature. Because of their role in agriculture, positive characteristics of hard work and honesty are associated with cows.

    Click here for more details of the Maritime Trade gallery.

    Turn around, then turn right into the corridor and walk all the way to the last showcase.

    LNY - Trail2

  • Object 2 – Tea set: Pitcher, two cups
    Lychee Tea Set

    Tea set: Pitcher, two cups

    China, Guangzhou or Hong Kong, late 19th or early 20th century


    Maritime Trade gallery


    What decoration can you spot on these silver pieces?

    - What would the different vessels be used for?

    - Do you think tea was a popular beverage back in the day?


    This "tea service", as it's called, is made up of a teapot, milk jug, and sugar bowl – everything needed to serve tea (except - what's missing?). The decoration of flowering prunus branches was "applied", attached after each container was cast into shape. Look closely to notice that each vessel has a horizontal section of moulded decoration crafted to resemble tree bark.


    The set was produced in China for export to the West or to a colonial outpost in Asia. Foreign merchants lived in China and other areas of Asia, trading in porcelain, tea, silk, silver and other valuable commodities.


    Plum blossoms hold special significance during Lunar New Year and symbolise perseverance and hope. At this time of year, plum blossoms are a common sight in parks and gardens around the world. In Singapore, some households may even use artificial plum blossoms as a festive decoration.


    Imagine having your tea served in this lovely set during a Lunar New Year get-together!

    Click here for more details.

    Walk towards the Central staircase and go up to Level 2. Exit left, and turn left into the Ancestors & Rituals gallery. Look on your right for a linkway to enter the Scholars gallery. In the Scholars gallery, turn right, then go left along the wall.

    LNY - Trail3

  • Object 3 – Covered box with lychees 

    Lychee Box 

    Covered box with lychees

    China, 1522


    Scholars gallery



    - What fruit can you identify on the surface of the box?

    - What do you think the decorative motif symbolises?

    - What would this container have been used for?


    The cover of this box is finely incised with lychee fruits. Take a closer look and you will notice the carving simulates the different textures of the fruit skins, branches, and leaves. This shows that Chinese lacquer carvers had a high level of skill during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), when this was made. Small boxes with completely decorated covers were especially popular in the 16th century.


    This would have been an ideal container for storing precious commodities (such as incense) because of the snugly fitted cover.  


    The lychee fruit is considered auspicious, symbolising good fortune, fertility, romance, and love.

    Click here for more details of the Scholars gallery.  


    Exit the Scholars gallery the same way you entered, then turn left and head to the Central staircase to go to Level 3. The Materials and Design galleries are located there. At the top of the stairs, turn right to enter the Fashion and Textiles gallery. Once inside, walk to the far side of the showcase in the middle of the gallery.

    LNY - Trail4

  • Object 4 – Blouse and skirt
    Blouse and skirt

    Blouse and skirt

    China, 1910s

    Silk satin embroidered with silk floss

    Fashion gallery

    What creature can you spot on the blouse?

    - What plants can you identify on the blouse?

    - Is there anything special about the collar?


    This light pink ensemble consisting of a blouse and skirt has auspicious imagery as its main decoration – a pair of phoenixes perched on rockery with large lotuses rising above. The blouse has an extremely high collar. Called a “sycee” or “yuanbao” collar 元宝领, the shape resembles Chinese gold and silver ingots. Some especially high collars could extend over the cheeks!


    The high collar, with four frog fasteners (braided loops that attach to buttons – unrelated to the amphibian!), was modern and trendy for its time.


    Click here to visit the Fashion and Textiles gallery virtually. Admire this ensemble in person before the gallery closes to prepare for a rotation of new garments on 22 February.


    Exit the Fashion and Textiles gallery and walk across to the Jewellery gallery. Walk straight till you see a corridor on the left. Turn and enter the Ceramics gallery. Once inside, turn right, heading towards the windows and find a tall showcase on the island in the centre of the gallery.

    LNY - Trail5

  • Object 5 – Pair of dishes with bats
    Bat Dish

    Pair of dishes with bats

    China, Jingdezhen, Qing dynasty (Tongzhi period 1862–74)


    Ceramics gallery

    1993-00182 & 1993-00183

    What animal can you identify on these dishes?

    - What do you think they signify?


    These dishes were made in the Tongzhi reign of the Qing dynasty. Polychrome porcelain vessels produced during this time looked back to the wares of the Qianlong period (1736–95), which was regarded as one of the “golden eras” of Chinese porcelain production.


    The decoration here features bright orange-red bats, an allusion to the Chinese idiom 洪福齐天 (hongfu qitian), which signifies great happiness. The bat is an auspicious Chinese symbol. The character for bat, fu , has the same sound as the one for good fortune, fu .


    Click here to visit the Ceramics gallery virtually.




While at the museum, visit the special exhibition, Faith Beauty Love Hope  Our Stories, Your ACMwhich presents voices of the many diverse groups of professionals and supporters who work at or with the museum behind-the-scenes to bring exhibitions and programmes to the public. The exhibition hopes to provide visitors and staff alike with an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate our strengths in this time of challenges and disruptions.