The Minangkabau people of West Sumatra form one of the oldest and largest matrilineal societies still in existence today. Property and inheritance flow from mother to daughter, while Minang men are known for their tendency to travel abroad, merantau.
The Minang are known for their unique architecture, ceremonial headwear, and even traditional movements which pay homage to the water buffalo (kabau) for which the Minangkabau community is named (minang=lucky; kabau=buffalo). Among the origin stories of the Minangkabau people is the story of the lucky water buffalo which saved the native people from being overtaken by an invading Javanese army: rather than fight the Javanese, the people suggested that a fight between the strongest of the buffaloes from each side determine the outcome of the battle. While the Javanese chose their largest, strongest buffalo, the Minang chose a newborn buffalo, not yet weaned, and separated him from his mother for a few days in advance of the fight. As soon as the young buffalo met his adult foe in battle, he hungrily sought milk, and the horns which the Minang had attached to his young head fatally gored the elder, stronger buffalo. With this victory, the Minang people kept possession of their lands and property, while the Javanese returned to their island empty-handed.
Much of its highland is formed by the Bukit Barisan Mountain range; virgin jungles inhabited by elephants, tigers, leopards and rhinos. Minang people have spicy-hot dishes and ancient matriarchal customs. The women own property and the men leave home to seek their fame and fortune. Traveling is considered a mark of success, Padang restaurants are found in all major towns across the nation. The people are hospitable and eloquent. They primarily speak bahasa Minang, with poetic style of speech.
Getting There : Padang’s Tabing Airport is the main gateway to West Sumatra and is serviced by Merpati Nusantara Airlines. PELNI’s ship “Kerinci” sails every two weeks for Jakarta from Teluk Bayur Harbour. Smaller vessels from Muara Harbour sail to small towns along the entire west coast of Sumtra. Regular bus services run between Padang, Bukittinggi and other major cities of Sumatra, as well as via the trans-Sumatra Highway to Jakarta. West Sumatra days are filled with colorful ceremonies and festivals. Legend of the Minangkabau is descendants of the youngest son of Alexander the Great, King Maharjo Dirajo.