Viktorija Panovaite

Main gestures and poses in Indonesia

There are the gestures and poses that Indonesian people do almost unconsciously. After some time living in Indonesia the foreigners starts do the same :). Some of them just because to show respect for local cultural manners, others – see so many examples around, that just assimilate (for example like me ;)). To make these gestures it’s not obligatory for foreigners but if you will do that, I think, Indonesians will appreciate it ;).


Shake hands softly and then slightly touch your chest afterwards.

Men usually give a stronger grip than women when they are shaking hands.
Touching your chest after shaking hands demonstrates respect to other person (you’re taking their greeting into your heart).

Giving and receiving things

Always use your right hand when passing and receiving things. Using the left hand is considered very impolite. Slightly bow your head as you say “thank you”.

Giving and receiving







Walking past people

Slightly bow your body and put right hand in front of body as walk in front of someone and say “permisi” (“excuse me”).

Pass people






Calling someone over

Just waving fingers downwards if you want to call someone over.









Indonesians like to sit just on the floor when they visiting people, eating, doing things at home and etc. Some of the local eating places “angkringan” mostly provides you only sitting places on the floor on carpets “tikar”. So even if you are not used to sit like this, soon (if you will stay longer in Indonesia) you will just adapt to this habit :).

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Males: Sit with feet crossed at the ankles (it’s called “bersila“).

Females: Sit with feet tucked under them, turned down on the floor. The same like yoga “Diamond” pose. Most probably you will see more often women sitting like males, but more polite to sit like this.

Women sitting style








Illustrations made by Hendra Arkan.

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2 thoughts on “Main gestures and poses in Indonesia”

  1. What about the greeting younger children do to their elders when they press their right hand on the elder’s forehead?

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