Local Wisdom: Definition, Characteristics, Functions, and Types

Local Wisdom is – Every country in the world has its own uniqueness, including Indonesia. Our country is so unique, so unique that if there is a nomination for the most unique country, then Indonesia will definitely be included as one of the nominees, maybe even emerge as the winner.

The uniqueness of Indonesia itself comes from customs, traditions and local wisdom that exist in Indonesia. Not just one, each region even has its own local wisdom.

Unfortunately, as time goes by, like most customs, traditions and culture, the local wisdom that exists in various regions is increasingly being eroded by the times. Instead of maintaining local wisdom that has been passed down from their ancestors, many young people replace it with views from outside which are not necessarily true or will only damage existing local wisdom.

Discussing local wisdom, you may have often heard this term. Whether it’s in books, television, or other electronic media. However, even though we often hear this term, in the end, many of us fail to understand and even confuse ourselves with the meaning of local wisdom itself.

Maybe you are also one of them? If so, here’s an explanation of local wisdom that Sinaumed’s needs to understand!

Definition of Local Wisdom

For those of you who are confused about the meaning of local wisdom or the notion of local wisdom, basically, something that has existed in an area for a long time and has been passed on from generation to generation.

Local wisdom is the view of life of a community in a certain area regarding the natural environment in which they live. This view of life is usually a view of life that has been deeply rooted in the beliefs of the people in the region for tens or even hundreds of years.

To maintain this local wisdom, parents from the previous and older generations will pass it on to their children and so on. Considering that local wisdom is an old thought and is decades old, local wisdom in an area is so attached and difficult to separate from the people who live in that area.

It’s sad, even though many parents still try to pass down local wisdom and outlook on life that they got from their ancestors, many young people actually consider local wisdom and traditional views of life that have been passed down from their ancestors as old views and thoughts that are no longer present. relevant to today’s modern times.

In fact, if you think about it again, everything that includes a view of life that is still traditional is not always bad and is not always a wrong view. In fact, it could be the other way around, because it is local wisdom that is maintained that makes a community so unique and different from people who live in other areas.

With local wisdom, the social order and the surrounding environment are sustainable and maintained. In addition, local wisdom is also a form of cultural wealth that must be firmly adhered to, especially by the younger generation to fight against globalization. That way the characteristics of the local community will never fade.

Moreover, local wisdom comes from our ancestors, who clearly understand everything more, especially related to that area. Apart from that, there is wisdom as well as good things in this local wisdom, but sometimes it is difficult for young people of the current generation to understand.

On the other hand, views that are too modern have the potential to be more damaging, especially to damage existing local wisdom. In fact, it does not rule out the possibility of destroying the existing culture, as well as destroying the surrounding environment.

Characteristics of Local Wisdom

After discussing the definition of local wisdom and knowing that local wisdom is the way of life of a community in a particular area regarding the natural environment in which they live, we will now discuss the characteristics of local wisdom. Here’s the full explanation!

1. Survive the Onslaught of Foreign Cultures

Each country, region or region has its own cultural customs. In contrast to our country which still maintains its culture and customs, most people from foreign countries out there have forgotten the customs and traditions of their ancestors.

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They prefer a free life that is considered modern without being bound by advice, let alone old customs that are considered out of date.

Not only that, over time, foreign cultures also began to penetrate into various regions in Indonesia. In contrast, Indonesia has a lot of local wisdom which also contains very strong cultural values. Given the age of these cultural values ​​that have reached tens or hundreds of years, cultural values ​​in this local wisdom are highly trusted by the local community.

It is this strong belief that makes foreign cultures unable to easily enter and influence society. That way, the characteristics of the people of an area will be maintained properly.

2. Have the Ability to Accommodate Foreign Cultures

Avoiding foreign cultures that enter Indonesia is not an easy thing to do. Moreover, in this era of globalization, where everything can be connected easily and quickly. Cultures or trends from outside usually spread quickly through YouTube, television and social media.

It is because of the existence of this technology that foreign cultures can easily enter Indonesia. However, on the other hand, different from foreign cultures, local wisdom has a high degree of flexibility, so that it can be accommodated easily without destroying the beliefs of pre-existing local wisdom.

As a result, even if a foreign culture enters, this foreign culture will only become a temporary trend and will not replace the existing ancestral culture. Moreover, to destroy the trust that is tens to hundreds of years old.

3. Able to Integrate Foreign Cultures into Indigenous Culture in Indonesia

Another feature of local wisdom is that local wisdom has the ability not only to accommodate, but also to integrate incoming foreign cultures and integrate them well with existing cultures.

One of the Wonderful Indonesia videos that went viral a few months ago, for example. The video basically contains various traditional Indonesian cultures.

However, it’s then mixed in with some modern and foreign nuances like the EDM season. The result? The video looks very beautiful and is liked by many people, both foreigners and locals.

Another example is the construction of a building in Indonesia. It is not uncommon for architects to combine local culture by copying traditional building designs in Indonesia, then combining them with modern architecture.

The Grand Mosque of West Sumatra, in the heart of Padang, for example, the building imitates Minangkabau architecture, while the roof of the mosque is made like a Gadang house which is a traditional house from West Sumatra Province. Even so, it still looks more modern.

4. Capable of Controlling Incoming Foreign Cultures

As previously discussed, foreign culture is not something that can be easily rejected. However, on the other hand, local wisdom which is customary and indigenous culture is also deeply rooted, so it will be difficult to remove it from society.

Instead of disappearing and being replaced by foreign cultures, the belief in local wisdom is stronger, so that it makes us able to control incoming foreign cultures.

Not only that, we can also easily filter incoming foreign cultures. In other words, we determine which foreign cultures can be accepted in Indonesia, and which foreign cultures have bad values.

5. Giving Direction to the Development of Culture in Society

Local wisdom that has been trusted by the community for a long time will inevitably also affect the community in their daily lives. How could it not be, local wisdom that is decades old will eventually become a belief or guideline adopted by the local community.

As a result, when something happens, the community will use local wisdom as a benchmark before taking certain attitudes or actions. This habit also allows people in certain areas to develop their existing culture to be more focused than before. In other words, local wisdom has the characteristic of being able to provide direction for the local community.

Functions of Local Wisdom for Society

Existing local wisdom may have a very traditional character, but the existence of local wisdom is very important for the local community.

This is because, local wisdom can not only be used as a guide in acting or behaving, but also has certain functions. Here’s the function of local wisdom for the community!

1. Conservation of Existing Natural Resources

Local wisdom has a fairly broad scope. Not only customs, local wisdom is also a way of life of the community regarding the natural resources in their area. Existing local wisdom makes people more aware of the importance of the natural resources around them.

Instead of destroying it, local wisdom actually helps to encourage people in certain areas to do conservation so that the nature in which they live is maintained and not damaged.

For example, Acehnese fishermen have abstinence from going to sea, such as Friday or Idul Fitri. Apart from these two days, there are several other days which are also designated as forbidden days to go to sea.

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This is done so that the fish have the opportunity to reproduce optimally. In addition, people who work as fishermen are also prohibited from catching fish with trawlers or bombs which can damage coral reefs and disrupt the ecosystem in the ocean.

2. Become Advice, Trust, and Abstinence

Our parents in the past certainly wanted the best for the lives of their future children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, they can’t live forever to keep their children and grandchildren living a good life.

Instead, our ancestors passed down various local wisdoms. With local wisdom attached to the community, it is not only a way of life that can be better. More than that, local wisdom also includes advice or tips, taboos that cannot be violated, as well as beliefs that are well maintained.

This old advice and advice is passed down, of course, to keep the life of each generation in a certain area running well.

3. Become the Main Characteristic of a Society

Existing local wisdom also includes customs and traditions. Even though it is often considered old-fashioned, it is these customs and customs that actually make an area unique and different from other regions in Indonesia.

With local wisdom, people will consider a set of traditions as something that should be done, because they are used to these customs and culture. In addition, the local community has also assumed that local wisdom is something that must be done in the area.

However, the story is different with tourists, and travelers who visit an area synonymous with local wisdom. The local wisdom that is reflected in these customs and culture cannot be found in other regions, because that is what makes tourists feel impressed with the region.

Just look at Bali, not only has beautiful nature, Bali also maintains the customs and culture that were passed down to them by their ancestors. As a result, it is this cultural heritage that makes Bali feel different, feel more special, feel more memorable compared to other places in the world.

Types of Local Wisdom

Local wisdom not only has characteristics and functions, but local wisdom also consists of two types, namely local wisdom that is tangible or known as tangible, and also local wisdom that is intangible or commonly called intangible . What does it mean? Come on, see the full explanation below!

1. Real or Tangible Local Wisdom

As the name implies, tangible local wisdom is local wisdom that we can see and touch in its form. Local wisdom in real or tangible form can be seen in various forms, both in textual forms such as procedures, rules, or value systems.

The next form is architectural, such as the various types of traditional houses that exist in every region in Indonesia. For example, the Gadang house in West Sumatra, the Joglo house from Central Java, or the stilt house from Jambi.

Other tangible forms of local wisdom are cultural heritage such as statues, various traditional art tools, traditional weapons passed down from generation to generation, to traditional textiles such as batik cloth from Java Island, and woven cloth from Sumba Island.

2. Intangible or Intangible Local Wisdom

In contrast to tangible local wisdom that can be seen and felt, this intangible local wisdom cannot be seen in real terms. However, even though it is not visible, this type of local wisdom can be heard because it is passed on verbally from parents to children, and the next generation.

Forms of intangible local wisdom include advice, songs, rhymes, or stories that contain life lessons for the next generation with the aim that the younger generation in the area does not commit bad actions that can harm themselves, the community, and the environment that becomes their home. and their source of livelihood.

An example is the belief from Papua known as Te Aro Neweak Lako. This belief is a form of local wisdom that is intangible or intangible, where people believe that nature is part of themselves.

Because nature is part of oneself, it must be guarded carefully. This includes not cutting down trees at will, which can make forests bare and cause various adverse disasters.

Of course nature can be used, but not over-exploited. With this belief, it’s no wonder that nature on Earth in Papua is still very well preserved.


Local wisdom may sometimes sound so old-fashioned. But without realizing it, it is local wisdom in intangible forms such as advice, rhymes, and stories that has been keeping us on the right path. Whereas local wisdom in concrete forms such as batik, handicrafts, architecture makes us so different from other regions.

These various forms of local wisdom unwittingly not only become beliefs that must be upheld, but also become the identity of a region. Without this identity, a region cannot be recognized, and remembered by outsiders.