The Minang lived in three valleys, each valley
being ruled by a different leader. Their power reached as far as
Batak regions and Rajang. The central Minang government lasted until
the end of 18th century when the wealth of the gold mines was exhausted
and the miners had to find other work. This work was found in the
direction of coffee, salt, textiles and gambir (a superior vegetable
tannin which proved to be an improvement on the original Chinese
product). Islamic traders from the beginning of the Islamic reformation
controlled the trade. Kings, Queens and other secular leaders who
refused to follow the Paderi (religious leaders) were conquered
during this troubled period in what became known as the Paderi wars.
The Islamic university is still called Paderi.
The written history of Minangkabau started in the 14th century,
with the introduction of Islam to West Sumatra, at the time of the
gold trade with India and Aceh. By the 16th century Pariaman had
become the main port, until Aceh people captured the harbour and
took over the trade so that all trade from West Sumatra went through
Badeh Aceh. Pepper cultivation then started to become important
and West Sumatra became a leading pepper production area, involving,
firstly, traders from India, China and Portugal and later the English
and the Dutch. In 1763 the Dutch captured Padang and built a fortified
trading post. The Portuguese Ambassador of that time became the
first European to visit the Bukittingi royal palace.
In 1821, the Dutch secured their trade by making agreements with
King Alam of Pagaruyung. The King gave them the Tanahdatar Valley
in which they built Fort de Cock at Bukittingi. From there, they
extended their power over the highlands.
The Paderi wars continued until 1837 at Bonjol,
named after the most powerful Paderi leader, Imam Bonjol, where
their power was broken.
From the beginning of the 20th century West Sumatra played an important
role in modernizing Islam, especially in improving education for
women. In the twenties many a well-educated student was frustrated
by the lack of work. In 1926 the students, with the aid of the Communists,
started a rebellion; many rebels were put into Dutch jails in New
Guinea, Irian Jajah.
After the Second World War, during the independence
struggle, Bukittingi briefly became the capital city of Indonesia;
after the Dutch captured Sukarno it was the temporary refuge of
the Government. On 1st. January 1950 Sumatra became a province of
the newly independent Republic of Indonesia.
Minangkabau Traditional house is called 'Rumah Gadang' that means
big house or Rumah Adat that means customary house. It is called
Rumah Gadang, because of its big size, but it refers to the big
function of the house it self. Rumah Gadang in Minangkabau belongs
to all members of relatives along the mother's line called 'kaum'.
The function is as the place for all traditional ceremonies like
wedding party or inauguration of a head of clan. The original traditional
house is made of wood and bamboo for the back wall. The roof is
made of palm vibe. It is about 12 to 20 meters long and 6 to 8 meters
wide the position of floor is two to two and half meter above the
The location of a traditional house stretch from
west to east, while the numbers of the rooms are 3,5,7,9 & even
though 17. The construction is expended up with a horn shape roof.
The roof looks like the horn of buffalo with 4 to 6 points stretch
along the house and a point in addition forward for the front door
and ladder. For the expanding form of the construction, there is
no any right angle connection to the pillars with the horizontal
bars of the house. Both, the upper and lower horizontal bars of
The inside of the house is divided into 4 parts.
They are living quarters along one side of that house, which consist
of five or more rooms; another side in front of the rooms is a hall
for meeting. In some houses, the meeting hall made with a raised
floor as the place for the household in a meeting. At both ends
of the house are rooms with a higher floor called 'Anjuang'. The
rooms at Anjuang are used only for a special occasion, and usually
used by a newly married daughter of the family.
The Traditional House is difference based on their clan:
- Bodi Chaniago traditional houses.
The house has smooth floor and doesn't have anjuang.
- Koto Piliang traditional houses
The house has anjuang.
The traditional house based
on their shape:
- Rumah gadang Rajo Babanding.
Consists of 5 rooms, 30 poles, 4 slightly horn shapes
- Rumah Gadang Rajo Maharam.
Consists of 40 poles. It is called Gajah Maharam because the
whole shapes look like elephant that sitting on the floor with
the legs together and bent back beside the body.
- Rumah Gadang Sarambi Papek
It is smaller than Rumah Gadang Rajo Babanding and consists
of 3,4,5 rooms coinciding with the numbers of pole and there
is no "paserek" and bedroom here.
In front of the traditional
house stands rice barns used to keep food supply namely:
- Sitinjau Lauik
Located on the left side with 6 poles and functioned as paddy
storage to provide the common traditional need of expense.
Located on the right side with 6 poles and functioned as paddy
storage for daily need.
- Sitangka Lapa
Located on the left side with 4 poles and has function as paddy
storage for disaster.
The traditional house wall
and the rice barns are adorned with colorful carving, that very
interesting and has a special meaning reflecting to Minang Philosophy
"Alam Takambang jadi Guru" means the whole nature becomes