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.

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.
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.

Traditional House
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 ground.

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 building.

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:

  1. Bodi Chaniago traditional houses.
    The house has smooth floor and doesn't have anjuang.
  2. Koto Piliang traditional houses
    The house has anjuang.

The traditional house based on their shape:

  1. Rumah gadang Rajo Babanding.
    Consists of 5 rooms, 30 poles, 4 slightly horn shapes
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  • Sibayau-bayau
    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 the teachers.



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