Minangkabau PeoplesThe people of Minangkabau is the Malay who reside current West Sumatra Province with the capital city of Padang. Historical researches revealed that the first kingdom on the country was located around 60 kms away from Bukit Tinggi city, a place called Pagaruyung. Here was found stone inscription in old Malay language and old Javanese writing. The inscription mentioned that king Adityawarman was ruling the country who was assigned by the kingdom of Pajajaran from West Java in 14th century. During the time West Java was under the control of the Great Kingdom of Majapahit. 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 Malay archipelago 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 community centre) to learn religious and cultural (adat) teachings. When they are teenagers, they are encouraged to leave their hometown to learn from schools or from experiences out of their hometown so that when they are adults they can return home wise and 'useful' for the society and can contribute their thinking and experience to run the family or n agari (hometown). This tradition has created Minang comm unities 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. 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. Being fervent Muslims, many of them embraced the idea of incorporating Islamic ideals into modern society. Furthermore, the presence of these intellectuals made the Minangkabau homeland (the province of West Sumatra) one of the powerhouses in the Indonesian struggle for independence. The Minang people belong to the Malay stock. Despite widespread use of Bahasa Indonesia, they have their own mother tongue. The Minangkabau language shares many similar words with Malay, yet it has a distinctive pronunciation and some grammatical differences render it unintelligible to Malay spea kers. Today both natural (farming) ,trade and cultural tourism have become considerable economic activities in West Sumatra. Most notable of Minang culture is i ts culinary tradition, with unique spicy foods such as Rendang, Soto Padang (a soup), Sate Padang and Dendeng Balado (beef with chilli sauce). Minangkabau restaurants, which are often called "Padang" restaurants in reference to the capital of West Sumatra, are present throughout Indonesia and some neighboring countries. Massive earth quake on 30th November 2009 hit the country of Minangkabau k illing more then 1000 persons and thousands of houses building, supermarkets and shops were in a total damage as by information collected by National Disaster Agency. Minangkabau– Ceremonies and festivalsMinangkabau ceremonies and festivals include: Turun mandi – baby blessing ceremony Sunat rasul – circumcision ceremony Pesta parkawinan – wedding ceremony Batagak pangulu – clan leader inauguration ceremony Turun ka sawah – community work ceremony Manyabik – harvesting ceremony Hari Rayo – Islamic festivals
The people of Minangkabau is the Malay who reside current West Sumatra Province with the capital city
of Padang. Historical researches revealed that the first kingdom on the country was located around 60
kms away from Bukit Tinggi city, a place called Pagaruyung. Here was found stone inscription in old
Malay language and old Javanese writing. The inscription mentioned that king Adityawarman was ruling
the country who was assigned by the kingdom of Pajajaran from West Java in 14th century. During the
time West Java was under the control of the Great Kingdom of Majapahit. 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 Malay archipelago 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 community
centre) to learn religious and cultural (adat) teachings. When they are teenagers, they are encouraged to
leave their hometown to learn from schools or from experiences out of their hometown so that when they
are adults they can return home wise and 'useful' for the society and can contribute their thinking and
experience to run the family or nagari (hometown). This tradition has created Minang communities in
many Indonesian cities and towns, which nevertheless are still tied closely to their homeland; a state inMalaysia named Negeri Sembilan is heavily influenced by Minang culture. 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. Being fervent Muslims, many of them embraced the idea of
incorporating Islamic ideals into modern society. Furthermore, the presence of these intellectuals made
the Minangkabau homeland (the province of West Sumatra) one of the powerhouses in the Indonesian
struggle for independence. The Minang people belong to the Malay stock. Despite widespread use of
Bahasa Indonesia, they have their own mother tongue. The Minangkabau language shares many similar
words with Malay, yet it has a distinctive pronunciation and some grammatical differences render it
unintelligible to Malay speakers. Today both natural (farming) ,trade and cultural tourism have become
considerable economic activities in West Sumatra. Most notable of Minang culture is its culinary tradition,with unique spicy foods such as Rendang, Soto Padang (a soup), Sate Padang and Dendeng Balado
(beef with chilli sauce). Minangkabau restaurants, which are often called "Padang" restaurants in
reference to the capital of West Sumatra, are present throughout Indonesia and some neighboring
countries. Massive earth quake on 30th November 2009 hit the country of Minangkabau killing more then
1000 persons and thousands of houses building, supermarkets and shops were in a total damage as by
information collected by National Disaster Agency.
Rumah Gadang (Minangkabu: 'big house') 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. 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
Oral traditions and literature
Minangkabau culture has a long history of oral traditions. One oral tradition is the pidato adat (ceremonial
orations) which are performed by panghulu (clan chiefs) at formal occasions such as weddings, funerals,
adoption ceremonies, and panghulu inaugurations. These ceremonial orations consist of many forms
including pantun, aphorisms (papatah-patitih), proverbs (pameo), religious advice (petuah), parables
(tamsia), two-line aphorisms (gurindam), and similes (ibarat). Minangkabau traditional folktales (kaba)consist of narratives which present the social and personal consequences of either ignoring or observing
the ethical teachings and the norms embedded in the adat. The storyteller (tukang kaba) recites the story
in poetic or lyrical prose while accompanying himself on a rebab. A theme in Minangkabau folktales is the
central role mothers and motherhood has in Minangkabau society, with the folktales Rancak diLabueh
and Malin Kundang being two examples. Rancak diLabueh is about a mother who acts as teacher and
adviser to her two growing children. Initially her son is vain and headstrong and only after her
perseverance does he become a good son who listens to his mother. Malin Kundang is about the
dangers of treating your mother badly. A sailor from a poor family voyages to seek his fortune, becoming
rich and marrying. After refusing to recognize his elderly mother on his return home, being ashamed of
his humble origins, he is cursed and dies when his ship is flung against rocks by a storm. Other popularfolktales also relate to the important role of the woman in Minangkabau society. In the Cindua Mato epic
the woman is the source of wisdom, while in whereas in the Sabai nan Aluih she is more a doer than a
thinker. Cindua Mato (Staring Eye) is about the traditions of Minangkabau royalty. The story involves a
mythical Minangkabau queen, Bundo Kanduang, who embodies the behaviors prescribed by adat.
Cindua Mato, a servant of the queen, uses magic to defeat hostile outside forces and save the kingdom.
Sabai nan Aluih (The genteel Sabai) is about a young girl named Sabai, the hero of the story, who
avenges the murder of her father by a powerful and evil ruler from a neighboring village. After her father's
murder her cowardly elder brother refuses to confront the murderer and so Sabai decides to take matters
into her own hands. She seeks out the murderer and shoots him in revenge.West Sumatra is the domain of the Minangkabau. In the beautiful landscape aroundBukittinggi, the typical Minangkabau houses are owned by the women in a matrilinearsystem. They manage to combine that system with the strict Muslim faith, in which the menare dominant.
From Singapore we cross over to the island of Sumatra inIndonesia. The ferry brings us to Pulau Batam within an hour.This is a small island in the Riau archipelago, from where wecan take the boat to the mainland of Sumatra. The boat onlyleaves in the morning, so we have to hurry to catch it. AnIndonesian guy "helps" us, gets tickets and leads us to theboat in a hurry. Once on the boat, we realize we have beenscammed. The exchange trick costs us 20 US dollar extra,but what is worse: we are on the wrong boat. Instead of goingto Buton, we are heading for Dumai now.
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In Dumai, we have to arrange a bus to Pekanbaru. Again, there are around 20 men around us
shouting to "help" us. This time, they are out of luck, we are fierce negotiators this time. We finallyend up in a bus full of Indonesians. The ride is long, bumpy and with a number of stopovers, butaround 9 PM we are finally in Pekanbaru.
Poppy's homestay is the only backpacker facility inPekanbaru. We cannot find it, until we are helped by a fewlocals. Surprisingly enough, they don't rip us off, they do noteven want a tip for their help. Our faith in the Indonesianpeople is a little restored. Especially when the owner ofPoppy's appears to be very friendly. He tells us where to
exchange money and how to get to Bukittinggi the next day.
Although we are asked to enter the bus early, it takes a longtime before it leaves for Bukittinggi. It drives circles in the cityto attract more passengers, and then it stops for breakfast.But in the end, we leave and in a short time we are windingthrough the mountainous area of central Sumatra. After a fewhours more and more houses with bullhorn shaped roofsappear. We are approaching West Sumatra, the domain ofthe Minangkabau.
We are dropped off at the edge of Bukittinggi and have tomake a long walk to the center. The name of the town means high hill, so we have to climb that aswell. Besides, it is difficult to read the map, which isn't correct either, so it takes some time to getwhere we want to be. The hotel we picked, however, doesn't exist anymore, but there is a goodalternative. A little while later we are relaxing and enjoying the view of Mountain view Guesthouse.
Our first day in Bukittinggi we take it slow. We take our time to find out what can be explorer aroundtown, and how to move on to Java. We also meet Johanna. She is a Dutch girl in a room next to us,and she has an Indonesian boyfriend, Jas. She is here for the third time now, and has a lot of tips forus.
In the afternoon, Johanna suddenly arrives, asking us if wewant to go to a Minangkabau wedding. Well, that's a yes, andin the evening the four of us join the wedding, celebrated inbetween the houses, where the people are waiting on chairs.The bride and groom are in a house, and once in a while agroup of people can visit them. They are offered some food,after which they can congratulate them and make room forthe next group. The bride and groom stay inside.
When it is our turn, we take off our shoes and go inside. In alarge circle we sit on the floor, the men cross-legged, the
women with their legs to the side. The food is typical Padangstyle: in the middle are dishes with chicken, meat, andvegetables, mostly prepared with many spices. Everybodygets a plate with rice and takes wat het wants from thedishes. It is an art to shape the food with the right hand intolittle balls, and eat those. We have some more trouble with it,and finish last. Then we congratulate the bride and groomand go back outside.
Outside, a band is playing. Everybody is invited to come and sing on stage, but we decline. We cannot refuse to make a dance, however. So here we are, on an Indonesian wedding, and the fewDutch people have to start the entertainment. Maybe it is the lack of alcohol to loosen the people upa bit. A number of guests do want their picture taken with us, so apparently we are the attractionhere. Around 10 PM the party is nearly over and everybody leaves. We do not get to see the brideand groom again, they are probably counting the gifts in the anonymous envelopes.
Through Sianok Canyon
The next day, Jas offers his services as a guidefor a walk through the nearby Sianok canyon(Ngarai Sianok). From Bukittinggi we walk downand via some rice fields we end up in a forest.Further downhill we arrive at the river that flowsthrough the canyon. We follow the river andpass it several times since it flows from one sideof the canyon to the other. We see enormousbugs, and flying foxes, a bat species with sizes
up to 1 meter. We pass several small waterfallsand see a few monkeys in the distance. Theclimb up is hard, but once on top we have amagnificent view over the canyon. Via the silvervillage, where people are making silver
jewellery, we walk back to Bukittinggi.
The next day we booked a tour by minibus through the surroundings. At the first stops we are taughtabout the different herbs and fruits that grow here on the slopes of the volcanoes. Again nice views,and we spot a few eagles. Then we arrive at a coffee mill. Driven by the water in a stream, poles arelifted and released in a receptacle full of coffee beans. Built by the Dutch, the mill is now owned by acorporation. The people can come here to grind their coffee beans for a small payment.
Then we arrive at the tourist palace. It is a copy of the original palace of the king, constructed for thetourists. It is a traditional Minangkabau house, with the bullhorn shaped roof. In the Minangkabauculture, however, the houses belong to the women. Why this house is not called the palace of thequeen is not clear to us. After lunch (padang food again), we visit the oldest still existing Minangkabau house. For over 350years, the eldest daughters of a certain family lived here. The Minangkabau men can visit and staythe night, but they do not live here. Male children leave their house at the age of six, the rooms arefor the daughters. The Minangkabau are muslim, however, according to which religion two thirds ofall possession is inherited by the male descendents. In the Minangkabau culture, that only concerns
newly acquired goods.
The lack of houses make Minangkabau men awandering species. It is therefore that theMinangkabau also appear in other parts ofIndonesia and even Malaysia. It is evenexpected of a man to spend considerable time(a few years) outside of his village. Mostly,
however, they come back, or their wives follow them.
The men of the Minangkabau do have communal functions. Every "clan", consisting of thedescendants of a mother or grandmother, has a representative. Oddly enough, this is not herhusband, but the eldest brother of the firstly married woman in the house. This man, whose childrenbelong to a different clan, has the responsibility over the children of his sister's clan. All these men,
from every clan, together form some kind of city council. Every generation also has its leader thisway. When something needs to be arranged, like a wedding, that leader is approached, who willgather the rest of his group to organise things.
In between some showers we move on to a large crater lake, Donau Singkarak. We can take a swimhere, with thunder in the mountain as a backdrop. The stop at the wood workers is also short, it istime to move on to today's main attraction: the bull fight.
On Sumatra, people don't fight the bulls as theydo in Spain. Instead, the bulls fight each other.
They bash their heads together and try to pusheach other away. The one that runs looses thegame. According to the story, this is how theMinangkabau got their name. When the peoplefrom Java came to conquer Sumatra, theyconvinced them to let the bulls fight for thevictory. The people from Java came with a hugebull, but the Sumatrans only had a small, hungrycalf, with its horns drenched in poison. The calfthought the bull was its mother, and wentsearching for her udders, wounding the bull. Thebull ran, and the people shouted "Minang kabau,minang kabau", which means "Victory for our Bull". We have a good view over the arena, from a hill around the field. Most of the audience is on thefield, as close as possible to the bulls. The first fight takes long, neither one of the bulls wants to giveup. The supporters of both bulls are shouting and pushing the bulls to force a decision. Then, after20 minutes, one of the bulls runs away. The second fight is much shorter, after the first bash, thesensible one of the bulls takes a hike. The third one is also short, but has a spectacular ending. Thefleeing bull can not find a clear passage through the crowds, and bashes into the people. Twopeople are injured, and the rest runs for their lives. Next, the bull runs up the road, followed by theother bull. All ends well, but we are told that sometimes people are killed by fleeing bulls.
Fort and Zoo
Bukkittingi also has a few places of interest in town. So we head for Benteng de Kock, the fort thatthe Dutch built on the hill. But there are little remains of the once mighty fort. There are a few canonsaround the hill, now occupied by a kind of water reservoir. Via a suspension bridge we move on tothe Zoo. But this is a sad sight as well, especially the anorexia camel we see. Yet, there are someanimal species we see for the first time, like the komodo dragon.
Finally, there is also a Minangkabau museum on the premises of the Zoo, obviously in the shape ofa traditional house. Inside, the traditional clothings are on display, as well as miniature versions oftypical buildings, sheds, and tools. And there are also many items that have nothing to do with the
Minangkabau, like coins and paper money from different countries, and stuffed Siamese twin goats.Strange, but interesting.
In the meanwhile, we decided not to move to
Java by bus, but to take the boat. Since it isleaving on Sunday, we have enough time for a
jungle trek to Lake Maninjau. Eric, who speaks alittle Dutch, has convinced us in the nice LonelyPlanet cafï¿½ to join him. A bus brings us out oftown until we reach the river where our jungletrek starts.
The first part of the trip is nice and easy. Then,we have to cross the river for which weexchange our shoes for slippers. We keep theseslippers on, since we have to cross the river
about 10 more times. The fast flowing wateralmost reaches our crotches, so it's not alwayseasy. Then Eric decides to climb up from the canyon, via a waterfall. Just as we wonder if there areno leeches here, Eric indicates to put our shoes back on, and we find a few. And while we are tyingour shoes, we are startled by a wild pig, being chased by dogs. That's a good start for our jungletrek!!
Climb and Descend
Coming up from the valley the path slowly goesdown again. Beautiful views over forest, river,rice fields, and mountains until we get down,
pass a bridge, and move up again. This repeatsitself about four times, in the meantime adding abig shower. Then, after 5 hours of climb anddescend, we finally stop for lunch.
After lunch, a few motorbikes bring us further tothe edge of the huge crater in which LakeManinjau is situated. We enjoy the view but areinterrupted by thunder clouds and rain drops, sowe quickly descend into the crater. The crater isheavily forested, and the path is slippery. Weslip and slide, and when we stand still we cansee the leeches on the floor standing upright, ready to hitch a ride on our feet. When the rain gets
worse, we walk faster, and we end up almost running, as we arrive at Anas Homestay. Anas Homestay
Anas is a collections of cottages in the middle of the jungle. Enjoying a cup of tea we dry up andcome at ease, enjoying the beautiful view.
We take a shower from the water that is captured from a stream via some bamboo branches. Sabineand Eric are playing the guitar, and we play cards with the two other guests, Calypso and Ben. Whata beautiful place to beï¿½ The night at Anas is less pleasant. Patrick finds a leech and we stay too alert to have a good nightsleep. But the nice breakfast compensates for that and a
little while later we are ready to move on.
First we head for a waterfall. Eric moves fast, and the rocks are still slippery from the night before.So we slip and slide again, until Patrick disappears into the abyss. Luckily, the forest keeps him fromfalling very far, but he is a bit shaky. At the waterfall, we take a nice shower, but not before we find alarge number of leeches on our legs. They must have gone right through our socks to get to ourblood. The rest of the descend goes well. The path gets less steep and we pass a few rice fields. Then we
arrive in the village of Maninjau. We walk on until we cross the last rice field to reach Lily's homestayat the lake. But before we reach that, we see a big monitor lizard of 1 meter, and a few small colorfulones.
At the lake
Lily's homestay is a nice relaxing spot on Danau Maninjau. We swim at the small beach and relaywith a meal and a drink. Too bad we didn't know about this place before, we could have spent somenights here. Now we take the local bus to bring us back to Bukittinggi. The road up on the crater wallis great, with 44 numbered hair pins, beautiful views, and many monkeys along the road watchingthe cars go by. After one and a half hour we reach Bukittinggi and look back at an intensive, but nice
Our last day in Bukittinggi we take it slow. Wevisit the market, and walk around town. Weenjoy another Padang meal on a banana leafwith Johanna and Jas, before we say goodbye.The next morning a minibus picks us up at 4.30AM to bring us to the boat in Padang in time.
For our standards, we spent a lot of time inBukittinggi. There is a lot to see and do here.
The beautiful landscape is perfect for trekkings, but there are also good places to relax. TheMinangkabau culture is slowly decaying, but very intriguing and present in the background. Thesefriendly people have surprised us, which we needed after being ripped off by the first Indonesian guywe met. Maharaja Diraja and his followers landed on top of Mount Merapi (in the district of Tanah Datar) which
was still surrounded by water. The face of the earth expanded, the number of inhabitants increased,and finally the early settlements were established in the district of Tanah Datar. And the nagari, thebasic Minangkabau political organization, were founded. That was how the history of AlamMinangkabau begins, at least according to the tambo, the Minangkabau traditional historiography. The earliest archeological evidence, can be found in the district ( luhak ) Limapuluh Kota, one of thedistrict, besides Agam and Tanah Datar – traditionally regarded as the heartland of the Minangkabauworld.Archeological remains, scattered in several hundred sites and dating from 3000 to 2000 BC,consist of menhirs, sometimes decorated with ornaments depicting birds, crocodiles, and buffaloheads. They must have been used as meeting ground were ceremonial gatherings took place. Once the heartland was secured, it ceased to expand, but the Minangkabau people continued theirgeographical explorations and established new nagari . The new territories, called rantau, grew inaccordance with the expansion of the Minangkabau people. Picture : the menhir If the heartland was ruled by the pangulu
–matrilineal inherited representatives of the people, the
rantau territories were ruled by the aristocratic raja. It was most probably also in the rantau that thesupranagari political organization was firstly established. Buddhist stupa, still standing near the confluence of two branches of the Kampar River in the easternpart of Minangkabau ( now lying in Riau Province ), may attest to early Indian influences in thecultural and political sphere. Muara Takus was a Buddhist centre of learning, frequented by manymonks from China and India. The area was perhaps also visited by traders since it produced gold andaromatic woods. Similarities in architectural features with Buddhist remains found in Thailand (Haripunjana or Lampun etc. ) are strong indications that the area in those times was part of a greaterworld extending over mainland Southeast Asia. One of the kingdoms in the eastern part of Minangkabau was Dharmasraya which may have flourishedin the 11th and 12th centuries. Its remain are found in Rembahan, at the banks of the Batanghari River in the present Kabupaten Sawahlunto Sijunjung. Picture : The Mara Takus temple In the competition with the maritime kingdom of Sriwijaya for the supremacy of sealanes in the Straitsof Malaka, King Kartanegara of Singasari (East java) sent a military expedition to Sumatra in 1275,known in history as the Pamalayu. The name Malayu, according to Prof JG de Casparis, most probably was used to refer to the wholeriver system of Batanghari, whereas Melayupura, its capital, at time shifted upstream and downstreamaccording to (political? ) Circumstances. Until the 13th century the capital was located at Muara Jambi,but later it was moved westward to the Langsat River to the place of Dharmasraya ( Padang Rocok )where a statue of Amonghapasa ( a gift of Kartanegara to the Malay King ) was erected in 1286. Perhaps the capital was moved again at the time of Adityawarman who established his capital atSurawasa ( Suroaso ) near present Pagaruyung. Heirlooms of the kings of Pagaruyung are stillpreserved today. Nowadays Pagaruyung is a nagari in the neighbourhood of Bukit Gombak andSuroaso, called the region of Tigo Balai, in the regency Tanah Datar, about five kilometers fromBatusangkar. The three Balai are Balai Janggo, Kampung Tengah, and Gudam. It is an area which hasyielded many inscriptions from the time of Adityawarman (14thcentury). Picture: Pagaruyung Kingdom remains As the story goes, Adityawarman was welcomed by Datuk Indomo, the symbolic representative of theKoto Piliang, who gave him a piece of land. Then Adityawarman established a fortified settlement andproclaimed himself as King of Pagaruyung. However, Adityawarman never ruled Minangkabau, whichconsisted of numerous independent nagger under their respective pangulu . The king was only thesymbol of unity of the Minangkabau world. Remains of this kingdom are still found in Pagaruyung andhave also found their way to many museums abroad. The statue of Adityawarman which was found inSijunjung is now housed in theNational Museum in Jakarta. Batu Batikam (Pierced Stone) found in Limo Kaum, Batusangkar, is - according to the tambo – linkedwith the emergence of two phratries in Minangkabau tradition: Koto Piliang and Bodi Caniago,
established by two legendary adat givers, two half brothers with a common mother and a differentfather. Datuk Ketemanggungan, the son of an aristocratic father, got into a heated dispute with hisbrother, Datuk Perpatih nan Sabatang, the son of a commoner, over the proper system of governance. In their rage both stabbed the same stone with their keris. The hole is still to ne seen,and so their descendants can reflect on the duality of the Minangkabau unified adat system. Bodi Caniago and Koto Piliang in Minangkabau philosophy are regarded as two complementaryphratries. The adat counsil of Koto Piliang which recognizes the hierarchy of panguluship is
characterized by its tiered floors, whereas the balai adat of Bodi Caniago has a level floor whichreflects its refusal to recognize any hierarchy in the pangulu system. Both systems, however, arebased on mufakat (deliberation and consensus) in every decision of social importance.
According to myth, the first Minangkabau came from the volcanic peak Marapi. In one
version, the founders arrived during an immense flood, when the part of the peak above
water was no larger than an egg. In another, the founders emerged directly from the
crater. Their descendants spread first into the three core areas ( luhak ) in the
highlands, and then into the periphery (rantau) of the homeland.
This homeland is bordered by the Batak homeland to the north, the Malay homelands of
Riau and Jambi to the east, the Kerintji homeland to the south, and the Indian Ocean to
the west. From the thirteenth century onward the Acehnese, whose homeland lies north
of that of the Batak, were the dominant sea traders along the west coast of Sumatra.
They were a major source of Islamic influence on Minangkabau culture. Minangkabau
trade also extended eastward to the Malay-dominated Strait of Malacca. A series of fifth-
to-sixteenth century Malay and Javanese trading empires (Melayu, Sri vijaya,
Majapahit, and Malacca) strongly influenced the development of Minangkabau society and culture. These empires provided the economic context of Minangkabau emigration,
and they provided the cultural inspiration for royal institutions at Pagarruyong, the seat
of the Minangkabau king.
According to myth, the first king (Maharajo Dirajo) was a son of Iskandar Zulkarnain
(Alexander the Great). Traditional history indicates that a Javanese prince or aristocrat
named Adityavarman became the first king, but perhaps as late as the fifteenth century.
Tome Pires of Portugal was, in the sixteenth century, among the first western European
travelers to mention the Minangkabau. During the seventeenth century the Dutch
traded for gold and black pepper in native ports along the Minangkabau coast. The
Dutch East India Company contracted with local rulers for a trade monopoly. By 1641,
with the capture of Melaka town, the Dutch dominated much of the trade on the eastern