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Pointings n Beckonings

The importance  of body language is essential in the intricate complexity of Malay rich culture and  social interactions.  On this particular article, I would like to bring special attention to the methods use for pointing and beckoning  in the Malay world of ‘Santun’.

The Right Hand

Always use your right hand in most of social conducts.

For eating please forward to Arts of Eating .

For shaking hands forward to Handshake.

The  use of the right hand is  for waving, pointing, and gaining someone’s attention, passing things, and touching others, regardless whether you are a right or left hander.

Most Malay believe that  left hand is a show of disrespect and use for sanitary reasons and considered unclean.


Pointing with one finger is considered rude.

In the Malay customs there are two ways that  you can practise the Art of Pointing. When you must point towards something or someone,

a) use the entire right hand (palm open) towards the direction of the object or subject.

The use of palm for pointing

or b) point with your right thumb extended and fingers folded under. Some Malay will point by nodding in the direction of the place or object in question.

The use of thumb for pointing in Malay culture

Thumb is also used widely nowdays with the invention of handphone.

Pointing with your index finger is considered
rude in Malay customs.

Pointing with a smooch lips at near object is also considered rude.

Pointing with your toe is the rudest of all.

Basically pointing with other methods except the two mentioned above, are considered ill mannered.

Beckoning people

In Malay culture generally we don’t shout or scream at someone for attention.  If we find somebody and need to beckon his attention so that he can come towards you, if possible don’t.  Instead it is proper for you to walk towards  that person and express your intention.  But in other situation, like trying to get the attention from   a waiter in a restaurant …please observe the followings:

a) Hold your right hand out, palm outward, and make a scooping motion with the fingers. Beckoning someone with the palm up or wagging one finger may be interpreted as an insult.

Calling someone like this is an insult.

b) Some Malay beckon restaurant staff by making a kissing noise, the “buss”—it may take a Westerner aback at first, but is merely a way to get attention for service in a noisy atmosphere. Or you can call the waiter ‘adik! or dik! Mari sini!”  which means ” Sis or Bro! come here!”

The use of Index Finger

During Solat

Whilst index finger is popular pointing method in other culture, Malays considered it rude and ill-mannered.  In Malays life index finger is reserved for other prupose especially when praying during the recitation of Syahadah.

For political purpose

Index finger is also reserved for politician of public speaker in highlighting a topic or issue.

Extra Terrestrial purpose.

Index finger is reserved to greet any Alien upon arriving.

For parents or Bosses: No! No! No!

When an idea arrived.

Negotiating a pair of chopsticks


That's what Malay calls 'Tonjol'. 
It is an insult to receive one especially when it touches your head.

Posted by Peacebuy


Filed under: Customs & Etiquette

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