The Concept of Beauty Across Indonesia


Indonesia is the biggest archipelago in the world with more than 17,000 islands (including around 13,400 registered and inhabited islands, and around 70% of uninhabited islands). The islands have lead to development of various cultures and traditions from Sabang to Merauke.

Of course, these tribes have their own concept of beauty. The concepts are based on the beliefs of their ancestors, as well as the culture has evolved and assimilated from generation to generation. Their ideals and standards of beauty have remained the same despite modernization.

Here are the concepts of beauty from various tribes in Indonesia:

Dayak tribe, Kalimantan


Women of Dayak tribe will pierce their ears with gold earrings as the symbol of beauty. The unique thing about this is that every year, they add one ring to their earlobes. The number of earrings in each earlobe signifies their age. The longer their earlobe gets, the more beautiful they are.

Mentawai tribe, West Sumatera


Traditionally, the Mentawai tribe belives that grown up women look beautiful if they have sharp, fine, spiky teeth. They also believe that the teeth filing ritual will bring happiness and peace to their soul.

Trivia: the teeth filing process is conducted without any anesthesia!

Sentani tribe, Papua

suku sentani

Women of Sentani tribe have unique braided hairstyle. The shape of the braids also has certain pattern: the braids aren’t too big, but tight and neat. The braid patterns are inherited from the Papua ancestors.

Belu tribe, Timor Island


Tattooing a woman’s skin is seen as a symbol of beauty for women of Belu tribe. It is also considered as a benchmark of a woman’s strata in the tribe, her occupation and also her abilities.

Batak Karo tribe, North Sumatera

batak karo

According to Human Nature journal, the beauty of Batak Karo women will be enhanced when they have big feet. An anthropology study from the University of Washington stated that big feet signify the adaptation to agricultural environment. Besides that, women with big feet are also considered as tough women.