Get to know 11 Kinds of Traditional Communication Tools

11 Kinds of Traditional Communication Tools – With the rapid development of technology, humans no longer experience difficulties in communicating. Now, the exchange of information is so easy to do despite the distance and time disparities. However, did Sinaumed’s know that communication tools go through a long history?

Before getting to know technology, humans still relied on traditional communication tools to facilitate the need for sending messages. What are categorized as traditional communication tools? Traditional communication tools basically still utilize simple media or do not yet have technological elements so that the reach of recipients is not wide and fast.

Definition of Traditional Communication Tools

Traditional communication tools are simple media used during the process of transmitting messages by the sender (communicator) to the recipient (communicant). Traditional communication tools usually still use manual methods. This is because the technology has not been found at that time.

Traditional communication tools have a limited reach. Its use is only in the local scope. In addition, the dissemination of information with traditional communication tools cannot be done quickly.

History of Traditional Communication Tools

Traditional communication tools were created to meet human needs to interact with others. Experts suggest that communication began when humans were present on earth in an effort to meet all kinds of needs. Because of this, traditional communication tools are believed to be almost as old as recorded human life.

Initially, communication could only be done face to face. However, direct face-to-face communication has many weaknesses and is unable to support increasingly complex human survival. Innovation continues to be carried out until traditional communication tools are created.

In its development, traditional communication tools are closely related to geographical location, local tribal customs and civilization. In Indonesia itself, several traditional communication tools are still being used by rural communities who are still thick with local wisdom.

Characteristics of Traditional Communication Tools

In the book  Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques , Dennis L. Wilcox mentions several characteristics of traditional communication tools.

1. Limited graphics load

The absence of technology in traditional communication tools makes the resulting information very limited. Traditional communication tools only produce sounds, writing and images that are made manually by human hands. Evidence of relics or artifacts found does not contain modern graphic information.

2. Hierarchical

Currently, information can be conveyed and received by anyone, even people who are not related to each other at all. However, traditional communication tools are hierarchical or the resulting communication is vertical communication. This means that the sender of the message and the recipient of the message are in different positions or positions in a community group.

The sender of the message using traditional communication tools is a person with a higher hierarchy compared to the recipient of the message. An example is the bell rung by the royal leadership as a sign of news to the people.

3. One way

Although the communication process always involves a relationship between two parties, traditional communication tools produce unidirectional communication. This communication pattern is characterized by the loss of feedback from messages received by the communicant. During one-way communication, the recipient of the message only acts as a listener without giving a reaction, response or reply to the information obtained.

4. Limited distance and time

Traditional communication tools have not included technological elements so that they have limitations in terms of distance and time. Messages sent through traditional communication tools can only be received by communicants who are in the area around the sender of the message. The process of disseminating information with traditional communication tools also takes some time to reach the recipient.

5. Professional communicator

One of the differences between traditional communication tools and modern communication tools lies in the expertise of the sender or communicator. Communicators who utilize traditional communication tools are those who have the expertise or at least the authority to use them.

For example, the use of the telegraph for war strategy was only carried out by people who understood telegraph code or Morse code—usually soldiers of war. Whereas in this modern era, anyone can learn and use any sophisticated communication tool.

6. Institution-bound

Due to limited access to traditional communication tools, their use is also linked to binding institutions. The communicators and communicants involved in conveying messages through traditional communication tools are in the same institution, organization or community group.

7. Fixed format

We can easily read news from other countries’ media even though it is written in a foreign language. This happened because of the phenomenon of globalization so that the barriers between countries are increasingly melting. A foreign language is something that is no longer difficult to learn.

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This situation was very different from past communications. Traditional communication tools have characteristics that are unique to one another. There is a code, cipher, sign, and language that is agreed upon in a group. An example is the hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians carved in stone understood only by their ancient Egyptian ancestors.

8. High access fees

Traditional communication tools are fairly simple because the media used are not complicated and can be found anywhere. This makes the reach and process of message transmission very limited and requires high costs.

For example using the services of messengers who travel long distances with limited transportation. Inefficient message delivery, such as the distance, time, and energy that must be allocated to transmit information, makes traditional communication tools require high access costs.

Kinds of Traditional Communication Tools

1. Smoke

Perhaps modern humans have never thought of how smoke was used by their ancestors as a traditional means of communication. In the book  World of Communication and Gadgets , Syerif Nurhakim writes that smoke is one of the traditional communication tools used by people in several parts of the world such as the American Indians, the Greeks, and soldiers in Ancient China. The unique shape of the puff of smoke is a marker with a certain meaning that is only understood by both parties, both the sender and the recipient of the message.

Initially, smoke was considered as a solution to the human need for long-distance communication. Smoke is considered faster than using the services or intermediaries of runners as messengers.

As a long-distance signal, smoke is passed through one tower to the intended tower. Conveying messages with smoke is done in a relay. Smoke is believed to be able to travel long distances in a relatively short amount of time.

Unfortunately, smoke as a traditional means of communication has many drawbacks. One of the weaknesses is the nature of the smoke which cannot last long, while the recipient of the message must continue to be able to remember the code sent. Another weakness lies in the shape of the smoke that is easily changed so that it has the potential to make the recipient of the message mistaken in translating the information received.

2. Prehistoric Paintings

On January 13, 2021 the National Archaeological Research Center (Puslit Arkenas) and Griffith University, Australia, published the results of a collaborative research in the journal Science Advances, that the images of pigs found in Leang Tedongnge, South Sulawesi, are at least 45,500 years old. The age of the paintings was determined through the Uranium-series method which required rock samples in the cave ornament. This painting is even claimed to be the oldest ancient painting in the world.

Prehistoric paintings that are often found in caves are one of the oldest traditional communication tools. This is because prehistoric paintings are markers of ancient human life, namely the phase when humans had not yet evolved.

Even though they contain different pictures or patterns from one cave to another, the prehistoric paintings have the same characteristics, namely depicting the daily life of humans at that time. Usually the images found are of animals which usually refer to the hunting period, traditional dances, or handprints.

3. Beduk

The drum is a traditional communication tool whose form and method of use are similar to the drum. Beduk is made of cow or cow skin. The drum is still often found in the front yard of the mosque because of its original function as a prayer alarm even though it has been replaced with a loudspeaker.

Even though it is synonymous with Muslims, archaeologist Dwi Cahyono from Malang State University believes that the beduk has actually been used by prehistoric humans or to be precise since the Bronze Age. One of the relics from that time was the nekara which is believed to be the beginning of the beduk. Nekara made of bronze is used during religious ceremonies.

4. Profit

Not much different from the drum, kentungan is a traditional communication tool whose method of use is being hit. The main material for making clappers is bamboo or wood as well as the bat. The original clappers are cylindrical or tube-shaped with a hole in the center so that the reflected sound is louder. According to the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI) clappers are sounded to indicate a time or danger sign or to gather masses.

5. Bells

Similar to clappers and drums, bells are traditional communication tools that produce a sound. The bell is shaped like a hollow cup turned upside down and made of metal. In the hollow part there is a pendulum that hangs so that the sound will be produced from the collision of two metals, namely the pendulum and the body of the bell.

Just like claps, bells are used as time markers or to announce something. Apart from that, bells are also found in several places of worship for religious rituals such as in monasteries, pagodas and churches.

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6. Pigeons

Historical records show that doves were one of the most reliable traditional means of communication. This intelligent bird has a sharp memory, good navigation skills, and the ability to return to its original cage even though it has traveled a long way. It is also a trainable bird.

In many important wars, the dove served as a caretaker who was both saving and deadly. As a postman, the dove is tasked with delivering messages, missions, or secret strategies in the form of letters to recipients. Pigeon Post succeeded in thwarting a number of war operations, but he also succeeded in delivering a victory that cost the opposing side. As a result, pigeons are often targeted for killing when deemed dangerous.

7. Stone

Humans try to record the events that occur in their lives more systematically. Writing is the solution to that vision. With writing, information will last longer and can be understood by readers and successors.

At the time when humans began to recognize writing, traditional communication tools began to develop. Humans are also looking for media that can be used to document their writings. Stone is a traditional communication tool that is considered sturdy and easy to carry on long journeys by messengers.

When studying history, we know that Indonesia has important heritages in the form of inscriptions. An inscription is a stone on which a row of human handwriting has been affixed which contains an important announcement.

8. Palm Leaves

Palm leaves have the same function as stones as a traditional communication tool, namely a medium for recording information. Palm leaves need to be dried before hand strokes are added. Palm leaf mass is indeed much lighter than stone, but its resistance is not as solid as stone.

9. Telephone tin

Canned telephones are often used as simple physics experiments on the process of sound transmission. This traditional communication tool requires two cans connected at the bottom with a thread measuring 5-10 meters. The sender of the message only needs to speak through one open side of the can, while the recipient of the message has to bring the open side of the can closer to his ear.

10. Telegraph

The telegraph was the first traditional communication tool to start using electricity. The telegraph was invented by an American inventor, Samuel FB Morse, along with the development of the Morse code which became the official language of the telegraph. Although it was first discovered in 1837, Samuel Morse only obtained a patent for the telegraph on June 20, 1844 after winning a trial against the applicants for a similar device from England, namely Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke.

The telegraph is often referred to as a revolutionary invention because it forms the basis for updating the communication tools we use today. Through the transmission of electrical signals, the telegraph was originally able to send messages as far as 32 kilometers more accurately or on target. The message sent is not yet in the form of letters of the alphabet but only dots and dashes known as Morse code. In subsequent developments the telegraph was able to travel even further distances to send messages.

11. Letters

Even though it is categorized as a traditional communication tool, letters are still often used today. Letters begin to recognize or contain information in alphabetical letters which are usually written or printed on a sheet of paper and sent by post. Traditional letters require a postmark with a price statement or known as a postage stamp.

Letters have been replaced by more efficient media, namely electronic mail or e-mail. However, correspondence activities still exist, used for official documents in state or business affairs.


Even though it sounds simple and has a number of limitations, traditional communication tools play a crucial role in supporting human social life. Traditional communication tools are the pioneer and basis for the development of modern communication tools. The communication tools that we currently use are the result of ripening, updating, and combining ideas or ideas from traditional communication tools.

Traditional communication tools are still being studied by scientists and experts alike. This is important to continue to do so that we can understand human life which is so complex. By studying past legacies, solutions or root causes of problems experienced by humans today can be mapped and formulated appropriately.

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Well, that’s the explanation regarding the development of traditional communication tools that have been used by humans from time to time. If Sinaumed’s is interested in finding out more about traditional communication tools, here are book recommendations that can be found on the page .

Author: Anendya Niervana

Title: Development of Communication Technology

Title: Interpersonal Communication Theory