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Indonesian Game: Semut, Orang, Gajah

Have you ever played the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors”? If not, ask someone familiar with the game to teach you. Then try this Indonesian variation.

Two players face each other and hold out a fist in front of them. On the count of three, each makes one of the following hand signs:

  • Semut (pronounced suh-MOOT): point with the little finger.
  • Orang (orr-AHNG): point with the first finger.
  • Gajah (gha-jah): point with the thumb.
  • Semut means ant.
  • Orang means person.
  • Gajah means elephant.

If one player gives the sign for semut and the other for orang, orang wins because a person can step on an ant. Semut beats gajah because an ant can crawl in an elephant’s ear and bite or tickle it. Gajah wins against orang because an elephant can stomp on a person.

Note: The word “orangutan” comes from the Indonesian words “orang,” meaning “person,” and “hutan,” meaning “forest.” Orangutans are native to Indonesia.


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