Health & Beauty

Masuk Angin

A Uniquely Asian Sickness

Marks left on the body after the cups were removed. Not all cupping looks this serious.

These are marks left on a body after a cupping procedure.
Bloodletting / cupping is believed to be helpful in removing harmful wind which has entered the body.

Throughout Indonesia, among every ethnic group, religion, and social economic group, Indonesians have a strong belief in the sickness they call masuk angin (wind enter), and they take great precautions to prevent it. Masuk angin has been described by some as a type of sickness that covers about every type of vague ache, pain, fever, cold, etc., that there is.



Cupping Therapy (Terapi Bekam)

WARNING: the below video is quite gruesome!

Water buffalo horns being used to increase circulation and bring contaminated blood to the surface.

With Indonesia being the most populated Muslim country in the world, it’s only reasonable to expect them to embrace the Islamic practice of bloodletting (cupping). Indonesia also has a large Chinese population who also practice cupping. Though the Chinese have a religious / philosophical view (balancing qi) of cupping that differs from the Muslim view, the expected results are the same.


Seller of Traditional Medicines
In the City of Jambi

Traditional Medicines

(Obat Tradisional)

“Jamuuu, Jamuuu” … is the call that’s frequently heard on the alley in front of our home here in the City of Jambi. The person calling out is selling their daily mixture of traditional medicines—called “Jamu.”

The Javanese ladies that make the medicines are also the ones that place them into a basket and carry it around on their backs all day long. They then walk through neighborhoods calling out, “Jamu-Jamu!” This lets anybody inside the homes know that if they want to buy their medicines, they need to come right out or the lady will proceed down the alley in search of other customers.


Long Fingernails

Thumb and little finger nails are commonly grown long by Indonesian men.

(Kuku Yang Panjang)

 Seven years ago when I came to Indonesia for the first time I saw many men with long fingernails. Usually it was the little finger and thumbnail that was long, and all their other nails were short. On rare occasions I saw men with all of their fingernails long.


Pointed Nose / White Skin

White skin is the standard for beauty for most Asians.

Standards of Beauty

Here in Indonesia we have had people tell us that their nose was ugly because it wasn’t pointed. We’ve also had people say their skin was ugly because it was dark. When going through language school the Indonesian teachers described a beautiful woman as being one with a pointed nose (hidung mancung) and light complected skin (kulit putih). There are even Indonesian songs that mention the pointed noses (video, with lyrics at the bottom of this article).