How Did People Communicate Before Cellphones Existed? Turns Out Using This Tool

Photo Source: Big kentongan in Tosari, Pasuruan, East Java on 13 July 1900. COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM - In today's era, communication tools have developed far beyond the limits of most human minds.

The absence of space and time restrictions makes people create a variety of inventions that are more practical and wider in scope.

In this modern era, people communicate with various means of communication, such as mobile phones and social media.

Do you know how ancient people communicated to convey their intentions, goals and so on?

Apart from passing it by word of mouth, the way people communicated in the past included Kentongan/Kentungan and Bende/Canang (small gongs).

In order not to fail to understand, summarizes what Kentongan and Bende/Canang were as a means of communication for ancient people.


Photo Source: ANTARA

Kentungan (slit drum or slit gong) is often identified with ancient communication tools that are often used by residents who live in rural/hamlet and mountainous areas.

Kentongan/Kentungan is a bat made of bamboo or wood with a hole made in the middle to produce sound.

From the hole will come out sounds when hit. "Tung, Tung, Tung" is how it sounds. That's why it's called kentungan/kentongan.

At the top of the kentongan/kentungan there is usually a hole and a rope to hang it.

Usually, kentongan is equipped with a bat that is deliberately used to hit the middle of the clap to produce sound.

The kentongan is used as an alarm signal, a long-distance communication signal and a sign of danger.

Then, the use of another kentongan, namely a night patrol companion, notifies thieves and other signs.

In fact, before massive loudspeakers were used in every mosque, kentongan and drums were the markers most often used to call Muslims to pray.

The kentongan is sounded with different and loud rhythms to indicate different activities or events according to the purpose of the sound.

From the rhythm that is generated, listeners will understand by themselves the message conveyed by the sound of the kentongan.

Usually, ancient kentongan are in important places, such as village halls, houses of heads of lurah/pesirah or RT/penggawa/penggawo, mosques or places of worship and other places.


Bende/Canang is a small gong made of copper or iron plate which can be found in almost all of the archipelago, from Sumatra to Maluku to Papua.

In the past, Bende/Canang was usually used to give signs to the community to gather at the village hall, square and other information from local authorities.

Bende/Canang is carried around the village/village/hamlet and beaten while telling the intention and purpose of singing the Bende/Canang.

In the province of South Sumatra, for example, the singing of Bende is carried out at night, with someone acting as an announcer and going around the village/village/hamlet.

These are the two means of communication that were often used by ancient people. Both of these tools have functions that are quite relevant in their day to convey information to the public. (*)

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