In Indonesia, the civil and Islamic judiciaries have sought to integrate local property systems into national and Islamic legal frameworks. The rise of cash-cropping and an Islamic reformist ideology have created local demands for new forms of property transmission. This essay examines the mediating role played by reinter-pretations of adat (tradition, custom, social system, propriety) in the transformation of property transmission in Gayo society of highland Sumatra. Gayo have contextualized the social messages of the courts in a way that has preserved central ideas of social continuity. Other Sumatran societies are contrasted with the Gayo and used to develop a broader comparison of Indonesian and African social change.