Minangkabau ethnic group is one of Indonesian tribe who live on highland of West Sumatra, Indonesia. They usually being called as Orang Padang. In vice versa with Batak ethnic group, Minangkabau is formed under matrilineal culture in term of marriage, inheritance and the way of living and they are the largest matrilineal society in the world.
Dates back to the history, Minangkabau was come from Luhak Nan Tigo, which include Tanah Datar regency, Agam regency, Lima Puluh Kota Regency. Then the culture was spread into the shoreline in western and eastern. Based on those history, now we can say that Minangkabau people are live in West Sumatra, West Riau, Southern part of North Sumatra, East Jambi, North Bengkulu and others are in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia and West Aceh.
The name Minangkabau is thought to be a conjunction of two words, minang which referred to victorious and kabau or buffalo. This etymology are came from one of the history of ancient time when Minangkabau people was attack by the neighbor kingdom. And to avoid the war, both made a deal to use buffalo fight to determine the war or nor. Fortunately, the Minangkabau bull was have the victorious then people named it as Minangkabau.
Minangkabau principles are set in statement of Adat basandi syara’, syara’ basandi Kitabullah which referred to The culture is based on Law, while the law is based on Al-Quran. In other words, their culture is officially based on Al-Quran.
Based on that constitution, after the arrival of Islamic reformers from Middle East on late 18 century, Minangkabau tradition which inconsistent with Islamic law was remove from the society. For instance, the culture of chicken fight, bull fight, gambling, consuming tuak or traditional alcohol or holding traditional feasts community.
Far before the entrance of Islam, Minangkabau is also tribe which hold an animism belief and become an important component of Minangkabau culture. In this animist belief that they have two souls, a real soul and a soul which can be disappear called “Semangat”. Semangat represents the vitality of life and it is said to be possessed by all animals and plants.
In pattern of customary inheritance and property for children, Minangkabau use matrilineal pattern which is different from the major community that usually hold patrilineal system. Hence, there is contradiction between the traditional custom and Islam constitution. Therefore, in pattern of Minangkabau inheritance, there is high legacy and low legacy.
High inheritance is a hereditary property inherited based on matrilineal descent. While, Low inheritance is wealth income based on Islamic law.
Seems like Chinese people, Minangkabau people are also spread to all over the country. They immigrate to other area in some purposes, one of the causes is the matrilineal kinship system. By this system, the control of inheritance is held by women while men’s rights in this case is quite small.
Other reason is about to come from culture minded, which is the spirit to change the fate by pursuit knowledge and wealth. This also based on the Minangkabau words, “Karatau madang dahulu, babuah babungo alun, marantau bujang dahulu, di rumah paguno balun” which mean it will be better to immigrate than being useless.
Everything about Minangkabau nowaday are become famous by their uniqueness, like their food and beverages. Padang food is everywhere which identically with hot and spicy taste.
Looking from their architectural, Minangkabau people have Rumah Gadang, or Gadang house. Rumah Gadang is served to be a hall for meeting, ceremonial activities, and because it hold matrilineal system, the house is owned by women and passed to the daughter.
By the increasingly modern world nowadays, Minangkabau people are still on the old track holding their tradition to face modernization. They may not live on the hall of Rumah Gadang instead of modern classic home, but the spirit and culture minded is still the cornerstone above all.