Examples of Customary Law and Sanctions Existing in Indonesia

Example of Customary Law – In Indonesia, especially in some areas, people still uphold customary values ​​to carry out several activities. Such as traditional ceremonies if you want to hold a wedding, funeral ceremonies, and even when someone commits an immoral act, customary punishment will be carried out on the culprit.

Each region has its own cultural history background and this also influences the implementation of the punishment according to the beliefs prevailing in each region.

As part of Indonesian society, we should also respect and appreciate the applicable regional regulations even if they conflict with our beliefs. Because, mutual respect will create harmony between Indonesian people and avoid existing disputes.

For this reason, in order for us to understand the values ​​of unity among Indonesian people, especially those in the regions, it is better if we look at some examples of customary law that exists in Indonesia and is still valid today.

Furthermore, we have summarized the discussion regarding examples of customary law in Indonesia and can be listened to below!

Customary Law in Indonesia

Indonesian customary law (Dutch: adatrecht; English: Indonesia Common Law) are unwritten rules and guidelines for all legal communities in Indonesia, and are adhered to by Indonesian people in their daily social life, both in cities and in villages.

In fact, there are still many people who use customary law to regulate their daily activities and resolve existing problems. Each region in Indonesia has its own customary law system that regulates the lives of various people, most of whom are customary law. Not in the form of written regulations, customary law is formed following the development of society and the traditions of the existing community/citizens.

A Brief History of Indonesian Customary Law

As a country inhabited by many tribes, Indonesia also has many customary laws. The role and status of the common law in Indonesia continues to grow. During the colonial period, the status of common law was considered lower than European law. This vision did not last long and appeared around 1808-1811.

The Governor General of England, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then formed a commission to examine and investigate the regulations that apply in society. This was done to improve the law of government during his reign.

The results of the survey were then collected on February 11, 1814. From there a rule was born called the Ordinance for More Effective Judicial Administration of the Javanese High Court.

The post-independence government also recognized customary law status. Recognition is written in the constitution. As stated in Article 18 B of the 1945 Constitution, “the state declares and respects customary law community units along with their traditional rights as long as they are still alive and according to the principle of society and the unitary republic of the state as regulated by Indonesian Law (UU).

The Origins of the Word “Customary Law”

There are two opinions about the origin of the word adat. On the other hand, there are also those who say that custom is taken from Arabic which means habit. Customary law was first introduced by Snouck Hurgronje, an expert on oriental literature from the Netherlands (1894). Before the term Adat recht was developed, the term Adat Recht was known. Snouck Hurgronje noted in his book on Aceh in 1893-1894 that uncodified Indonesian public law belonged to Aceh.

Later, the term was also used by Cornelis van Vollenhoven, a Bachelor of Letters who is also a Bachelor of Law who is also a professor at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He included the term Adat Recht in his book Adatrecht van Nederlandsch Indie (Dutch East Indies Customary Law) from 1901 to 1933. , Rules of Dutch Law), Article 13 paragraph (2), which came into force in 1929.

Customary law is unknown in Indonesian society. Hilman Hadikusuma said the term was only a technical term. It is said that because the term grew and developed by jurists who studied laws in Indonesian society, which was then developed into a scientific system.

The term Customary Law is also known in English, but the development of Indonesia itself is only known as Adat, referring to the legal system referred to in the academic world as common law.

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This opinion is reinforced by the opinion of Muhammad Rasyid Manggis Dt Radjo Penghoeloe, by Prof. Amura : Continuing the perfection of life in times of excessive prosperity, because the people were a little worried about the abundant natural wealth, then people learned abdat.

Examples of Customary Law in Indonesia

Examples of Indonesian common law vary. Rules relating to marriage, traditional ceremonies and death ceremonies are regulated by customary law.

Various examples of customary law exist in Indonesia. Before learning about the various types of customary law, here is the definition of customary law. Quoted from the book Indigenous Peoples Law by Dr. Teuku Muttaqin Mansur, MH Customary law is unwritten customary rules decided by jurists, the sanctions have been around for a long time, are still developing and are followed by local indigenous peoples.

Customary law is a hereditary belief of the local community that is still adhered to. The following are examples of customary law in Indonesia:

Customary Law of Calculation of the Javanese Calendar

An example of the customary law of the Javanese people which is still alive and continues to this day is the tradition of counting calendars. Calculating the Javanese calendar is not only related to mystical matters, but is a condition for obtaining the pleasure of Allah. Javanese calendar calculations are generally used as:

  • Set a wedding date
  • Define important holidays
  • Set a suitable wedding time.

Customary Law: Awig-awig in Pakraman Village, Bali

Quoted from the JDIH Karangasem website, Balinese Awig-awig customary law is listed in Bali Provincial Decree No. 3 of 2003. The awig-awig adopted by the Balinese Pakraman Village includes several things such as:

  • Forgive (forgive)
  • Sins (financial fines)
  • Kempang (property valuation)
  • Kasepekang (not speaking) for a certain period of time
  • Kaselong (expelled from his village)
  • Prayascita ceremony (village cleansing ceremony)

Kalis Dayak customary law, Kalimantan

Another example of customary law is the Dayak community in Kalimantan. According to the Cultural Site of the Ministry of Education and Culture, there are four types of customary law in the Kalis Dayak community, including:

  • Saut: a type of punishment that begins with a small incident. The death penalty is a symbol of peace with the supernatural spirits that surround it.
  • Sanga’ Bar (half of the soul): the decision of the case, whether intentional or not. The consequences for the victim are lifelong disability or serious injury.
  • Life or Body Starch or Bar: A kind of decision in any case that causes someone’s death. Criminals comply with existing customary and formal laws (notified to authorities)
  • Kampung Adat: The type of punishment given to criminals if the case is immediately caught and it is proven that their actions have violated village customs.

Finger Cutting Customary Law, Papua

Grief over the death of a family member is usually expressed by crying or mourning the loss until the sadness subsides.

However, the Dani people who live in the mountains of Halmahera, Papua are different. Existing customary law even seems to add to the suffering of the families left behind by having to cut off their fingers.

Every time a family member dies, tribe members must cut their knuckles as a reminder that the family member is no longer complete.

Why knuckles? Since hands represent perfection, if something is missing, life is obviously no longer perfect.

Derivative Customary Law, Aceh

In Aceh, the example of customary law that applies is multilevel law based on injustice committed by the community, regardless of whether it is the lower class or superior.

Starting with a reprimand, then having to apologize in public, until finally there is a big law and until the culprit is physically punished.

Land Stabbing Customary Law

The Tikam Tanah ceremony is a traditional ritual performed by outsiders who enter Selaru Island for a specific purpose. According to the indigenous people of Selaru Island, the entire area of ​​Petuan Village, especially some areas that are sacred to the community, are still inhabited by their ancestors. Therefore, visitors from outside the village must perform an introduction ritual called the traditional muspika ritual, as a signal to the ancestors, so that village guests are not disturbed. This ritual shows that village guests are considered part of the village community.

Customary Inheritance Law, Bali

Bali, which adheres to patrilineal or male gender, has family inheritance laws that are one hundred percent in the hands of men.

Even though it can only be worn by girls, this is based on the fact that men’s responsibilities in the family are considered greater than those of women.

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The law changed slightly in 2010, when women were granted the right to inherit, namely: half of the property, a third of which was previously used for inheritance.

But this law only applies to Hindu women. This does not apply to Balinese women who change religions.

Mahar Customary Law, Maluku

The Naulu tribe still followed the dowry customary law in the form of a severed human head until 2005.

It is terrible, but local people believe that it will bring immortality to their families in the future. Fortunately, the government prohibits enforcement of this law.

Mualang Butang Dayak Customary Law

Indigenous peoples in general, especially the Dayak Indigenous Peoples of West Kalimantan, must be governed by regulations or customary law. Of course the customary laws of each region, sub-tribe or community are not the same. The existence of this custom is ancestral heritage. Different customary laws apply to each indigenous West Kalimantan Dayak community or Dayak sub-tribe. From the common law of marriage, the common law of Butang (cheating/adultery) to the general law of murder or the nature of life. Customary law also regulates the management and utilization of natural resources, such as the use of shared forests (common jungle). The same is true for the native Dayak Mualang or the Dayak Mualang sub-tribe.

One of the Dayak Mualang villages that still follows its customs and traditions is the Dayak Mualang in Resak Balai Village, Belitang Hilir District, Sekadau Administrative Region. This village is a small village with 63 families. There is still a very strong sense of kinship and attachment here in everyday social life. A sense of kinship and a sense of belonging cannot be separated from obedience and obedience as a guideline for living together. For the Dayak Mualang people here, whenever there is a problem or dispute in the village, they always prioritize customary law. Dayak Mualang Kampung Resak Balais believes that customary law is the best way and still provides a sense of justice in resolving problems or disputes. There is nothing that common law cannot handle. For the original Dayak Mualang community, The purpose of customary law is to regulate order in society. Customary law is very important because it maintains and regulates the relationship between humans and humans, humans and nature, and humans and the Creator so that they are maintained, balanced, peaceful and harmonious.

Dayak Mualang customary law consists of several types or levels. Starting from the common law that regulates human behavior to the common law relating to the management of land and natural resources. So for Dayak Mualang, customary law is a very sacred thing. Therefore, if there is a violation of the common law, all violators must be subject to the ordinary punishment and must pay attention to the ordinary punishment in the form of a tail. Saba, according to Dayak Mualang, is a unit of customary sanction.


This is a brief discussion of examples of customary law in Indonesia. Not only discussing examples of customary law but also discussing in more detail the customary law that applies in Indonesia, its brief history, the origins of the word customary law, and related matters regarding the application of customary law that is still valid in Indonesia.

Studying customary law is a very basic thing, especially for a human being as a social being because understanding the various customary laws that apply and develop in each region makes us more respectful of each applicable regional regulation and of course it varies according to the cultural background of the area and the reasons why. they apply the customary law, of course, for certain reasons according to their respective customary beliefs.

Thus a review of some examples of customary law in Indonesia. For Sinaumed’s who want to understand customary law and knowledge related to other laws, you can visit sinaumedia.com to get related books.

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Author: Pandu Akram
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