30.7.11

Minangkabau, the World's Largest Matrilineal Society

minangkabau
The Minangkabau ethnic group (also known as Minang) is indigenous to the highlands of West Sumatra, in Indonesia. The Minangkabau are strongly Islamic, but also follow their ethnic traditions, or adat. The Minangkabau adat was derived from animist beliefs before the arrival of Islam, and remnants of animist beliefs still exist even among some practicing Muslims. The present relationship between Islam and adat is described in the saying "tradition [adat] founded upon Islamic law, Islamic law founded upon the Qur'an" (adat basandi syara', syara' basandi Kitabullah). 


The Minangs are the world's largest matrilineal society, in which properties such as land and houses are inherited through female lineage. Some scholars argue that this might have caused the diaspora (Minangkabau, "merantau") of Minangkabau males throughout the Maritime Southeast Asia to become scholars or to seek fortune as merchants. As early as the age of 7, boys traditionally leave their homes and live in a surau (a prayer house & community centre) to learn religious and cultural (adat) teachings. This tradition has created Minang communities in many Indonesian cities and towns, which nevertheless are still tied closely to their homeland; a state in Malaysia named Negeri Sembilan is heavily influenced by Minang culture.
The first female minister was a Minang scholar.


In addition to being renowned as merchants, the Minangs have also produced some of Indonesia's most influential poets, writers, statesmen, scholars, and religious scholars. Today both natural and cultural tourism have become considerable economic activities in West Sumatra.


Traditional Minangkabau music includes saluang jo dendang which consists of singing to the accompaniment of a saluang bamboo flute, and talempong gong-chime music. Dances include the tari piring (plate dance), tari payung (umbrella dance) and tari indang. Demonstrations of the silat martial art are performed. Pidato adat are ceremonial orations performed at formal occasions.


Saluang

Randai is a folk theater tradition which incorporates music, singing, dance, drama and the silat martial art. Randai is usually performed for traditional ceremonies and festivals, and complex stories may span a number of nights. Randai performances are a synthesis of alternating martial arts dances, songs, and acted scenes. 








Rumah gadang ('big house') - or more correctly rumah bagonjong - are the traditional homes (Indonesian: rumah adat) of the Minangkabau. The architecture, construction, internal and external decoration, and the functions of the house reflect the culture and values of the Minangkabau. A rumah gadang serves as a residence, a hall for family meetings, and for ceremonial activities. With the Minangkabau society being matrilineal, the rumah gadang is owned by the women of the family who live there - ownership is passed from mother to daughter.
Rumah Gadang

The houses have dramatic curved roof structure with multi-tiered, upswept gables. Shuttered windows are built into walls incised with profuse painted floral carvings. The term rumah gadang usually refers to the larger communal homes, however, smaller single residences share many of its architectural elements.







Animism has been an important component of Minangkabau culture. Even after the penetration of Islam into Minangkabau society in the 16th century, animistic beliefs were not extinguished. In this belief system, people were said to have two souls, a real soul and a soul which can disappear called the semangat. All Minangkabau customs allegedly in conflict with the Koran were to be abolished. Although the Padri were eventually defeated by the Dutch, during this period the relationship between adat and religion was reformulated. Previously adat was said to be based upon appropriateness and propriety, but this was changed so adat was more strongly based upon Islamic precepts.

The Minang's adat and their Islam religion each help the other and thus form "a hedge against the decline of either", as follows: "The passion the Minangkabau pour into religion and adat " on the one hand strengthens adat which then limits "the destructive consequences of Western capitalism" and on the other hand guards their religion "against falling lockstep into a simplistic anti-Western Islamism."
With the Minangkabau highlands being the heartland of their culture, and with Islam likely entering the region from coast it is said that ‘custom descended, religion ascended’ (adat manurun, syarak mandaki).




Randai




Tari Payuang (Umbrella Dance)
Rumah Gadang

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nice blog :)

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