Minangkabau


Minangkabau
/mee'nahng keuh bow"/, n.
1. a member of an Indonesian people native to west-central Sumatra.
2. the Austronesian language of these people.

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Any member of the largest ethnic group on the island of Sumatra, Indon.

Though Muslim, the Minangkabau are matrilineal. Traditionally, the wife remained with her maternal relatives after marriage; her husband continued to live with his mother but visited his wife. The domestic unit, a community house, held a head woman, her sisters, their daughters, and their children and visiting husbands. Today that kinship structure has declined, and more men have left their villages to establish their own households with wives and children. Traditional Minangkabau are farmers, and their crafts include wood carving, metalwork, and weaving. Some migrated to Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) in the 1850s to participate in the rapid expansion of Malayan tin mining; over time immigrants switched to farming, and in the 20th century they came to control most of Malaya's retail trade. The Minangkabau number two to five million.

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people
Malay  Urang Padang (“People of Padang”) 

      largest ethnic group on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, whose traditional homeland is the west central highlands. Their language, closely resembling Malay (Malay language), belongs to the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) language family. In the late 20th century their numbers were estimated at approximately 6,000,000. Although Muslim, the Minangkabau are matrilineal, tracing descent and inheritance through the female line. Traditionally, a wife remained with her maternal relatives after marriage, and a husband continued to reside in his mother's house.

      The domestic unit was traditionally the community house, in which a head woman, her sisters, their daughters, and their children lived. Several of these houses made up the clan, within which no marriage was allowed. Several clans made up the negari, the largest unit of government, roughly equivalent in size to a village. Each house was represented in the clan council by a male member.

      The family house was a large rectangular structure, raised high above the ground, with a saddle-shaped roof. A main room occupied much of the structure. Adjoining it were the living compartments, each occupied by a woman, her children, and her husband (when visiting).

      The Minangkabau have extensive terraced fields and garden plots in which they raise irrigated rice, tobacco, and cinnamon, as well as fruits and vegetables. Their crafts include wood carving, metalworking, and weaving.

      Since World War II the traditional kinship structure has declined in importance, and many nuclear families have left the village to establish their own households. Some of the kin-group land has become the personal property of these households.

      Some Minangkabau migrated to Malaya in the late 19th century and formed a confederation of small states that came to be known as Negri Sembilan (Negeri Sembilan) (Nine States). Minangkabau tribesmen, closely resembling peninsular Malay, left Sumatra to seek greater economic opportunity across the Strait of Malacca. Rapid expansion of Malayan tin mining after 1850 lured increasing numbers of Minangkabau as miners or as petty merchants. The immigrants secured transit to Malaya by selling property or receiving assisted passage in return for contract mine labour. By the beginning of the 20th century, however, capital-intensive mining displaced Minangkabau miners, who then shifted to agricultural pursuits in interior river valleys. Land was plentiful, and the Minangkabau frequently gained title to land by clearing, planting, and living on it. Malay sultans raised no objections to these linguistically Malay immigrants, who partially offset the influx of Chinese labourers. Minangkabau immigrants became successful smallholder farmers and in the 20th century came to control most retail trade in Malaya.

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Universalium. 2010.

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