Traditional Skin Therapy Practices: A Research on the Malaysian Peranakan Chinese Heritage

Main Article Content

Nik Nur Azizah Nik Halman, Azlina Abdullah, Novel Lyndon


The traditional practice of skin health care and beauty therapy is still maintained by a large number of Peranakan Chinese women today. This practice is a legacy that reflects the identity of the Peranakan Chinese community, which is very different from the Pure Chinese. However, the effects of migration and urbanisation have caused this traditional practice to be increasingly forgotten among the younger generation due to the difficulty in obtaining valid sources. This happened as many elderly in the village passed away without inheriting their traditional knowledge. Thus, this study will cover the knowledge gap by highlighting the knowledge of traditional therapy used by the Peranakan Chinese in the state of Kelantan in skincare. The main purpose of the study was to document the practice of skincare therapy in detail along with its benefits. This study uses a qualitative method of phenomenology. Study data were obtained through interviews and observations involving five informants in selected Peranakan Chinese villages. The study data has successfully constructed an indicator of skin health and beauty care practices that are frequently practised by women. Among their therapeutic practices are the use of aloe vera leaves with rock sugar, 'Bunga Jam 12' or known in the West as Lady/Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum anguliger), egg whites and honey, consumption of young turmeric and cekur (Kaempferia galanga). The methods of use and recommended intake of each natural ingredient are also explained. These heritage therapy practices have benefited the Peranakan Chinese in improving the quality of their skin health. This study benefits the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Health Malaysia in planning a proactive effort to preserve the traditional therapy practices of the Peranakan Chinese sub-ethnic heritage. In addition, this study serves as a written guide to a new generation who wishes to learn, apply and develop traditional health care practices so that they can become an alternative to modern medicine.

Article Details