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"Marosok", A Unique Transaction System in West Sumatra

What is Marosok Sumatera Barat? A Special tradition in doing a transaction system called marosok in West Sumatra is a unique way of transaction. The word marosok can be described as an activity of touching, feeling and holding something without seeing it but just trying to feel it using the brain and the feeling. The tribe of Minangkabau is one of Indonesia’s ethnics which is famous for the ability of doing transaction system.

It is believed that they inherit the ability of their ancestors from the Melayu kingdoms where the people liked to trade. One of unique tradition is marosok Sumatera Barat, a technique of trading used in trading especially for the livestock such as cows or bulls.

No one knows for sure where the tradition was started, they just believe that the tradition has been done over generations, and still done by current people in west Sumatera.

Marosok is a unique way to do the transaction system for the livestock. When a person would like to buy a cow for example, he will bargain the price from the owner. Then they will get involved in a marosok way. They hold each other hand which is covered by some cloth or hat, and they do the bargaining through it. They cover the hands with cloths like sarong or with hats so that other people won’t see their “conversation”.

Only the buyers and the owners know the price. Then without speaking a word between the two, they play their hands to show the price they want to sell or they want to buy for the cow.

During the bargaining process, they hold each other hands, holding fingers, shake hand to the left and right. When they haven’t come to the deal, they won’t let go off the hands. The new prices are still being offered by both sides. When the deal is achieved, they then released the hands. It is also possible that when they release each other hand, it means that both sides don’t achieve a deal in prices and therefore, the owner doesn’t let go off his commodities for the price offered by the prospective buyers.




Marosok is done for the transaction system involved livestock such as cow, bull, or goats. The buyers and the owners do not use verbal communication in doing the transaction. They use the symbols of hands’ movements with certain rules and regulation set before.

The transaction is mainly done in Minangkabau people in Muaro Paneh, the biggest livestock market in West Sumatera. In doing the transaction in marosok way, the pointer is considered as the mother or center of the transaction, where the pointer can be meant as 1 million or 10 million as the price predicted before the transaction happens.

In the practice of Marosok Sumatera Barat, the fingers show teens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions rupiahs. For example, the owner wants to sell his cow for IDR 6, 4 millions, then he holds the pointer of the buyers which means IDR 10 million, then another 4 fingers are hold hands shaken to the left. It means 10 million is reduced by 4 million, while the IDR 400 thousands showed by the four fingers are held again then being pushed. When the deal is achieved, then the transaction ends in the number of IDR 6, 4 million for a cow.

If the buyer would like to bargain a cow into IDR 6, 2 millions, here is what he has to do. He needs to hold two fingers and shake them to the left. Then if the owner wants to have IDR 50 thousands higher, the owner will hold the upper segment of a the buyer’s thumb and “break” it, and then the price goes to IDR 6, 25 million for a cow.




The practice of marosok in West Sumatera done by the local people has some purposes, i.e.:

  1. First of all, the local people said that they would like to preserve the tradition bestowed by their ancestors. They believe that the tradition has been done by the ancient people and done from generations to generations.
  2. The second purpose is that they would like to respect each other between the buyers and the owners of the commodities. By doing the marosok, only both people know the price wanted by the owners, and how high a buyer can bargain. by doing so, noone else know the deal between the two and that considered “save” the self-esteem of the people involved in the transaction.
  3. As the tourist attractions. Minangkabau has many heritages in history and culture. The tradition of marosok is one of them. It is expected to be one of the attractions for tourist to visit West Sumatra.