Minang Culture and Matrilineal Hierarchy


Minang culture, or some people call Minangkabau culture, can be the best Indonesia shock culture for foreigners as well as the Indonesian. The Minang people are the world’s well-known for their matrilineal hierarchy. They are the largest population of matrilineal society on earth.

Where does Minang Culture Lie?

Minang is actually the term refers to the indigenous ethnic groups in West Sumatra. It, however, encompasses more than the area. The ethnic groups also inhibit Riau, Bengkulu, Jambi, and some parts of Aceh as well. The home of the culture is approximately 1.400 kilometers distance from Jakarta. Air and land transportation are the options available to reach the place. The nearest airport to reach this place is Minangkabau International Airport.

Matrilineal Hierarchy in Minang Society

It is no longer a secret that Minang’s women hold much power in their lives. The matrilineal hierarchy they adhere to makes them becoming the world’s attention. How come in a region so strong and bold of Islam influence women can hold control?

Women in Muslim stereotypes in Western countries seen as powerless and helpless victims. However, in Minang society, women have very special positions. They are in charge of tracing the inheritance as well as the kinship in the family. Therefore, a mother will pass her property ownership to her daughters. A father, nevertheless, can inherit his wealth to the son.

Additionally, in Minang culture, women are decisive in succeeding the decisions taken by the men. That is why they called it Limpapeh Rumah nan Gadang (the foundation of the home). It does not stop there. Women also have primary roles in ceremonial events. Women are involved in almost every aspect of life. 

Minang’s Traditional House

If you are somewhere around Indonesia, it is very easy to recognize Rumah Gadang. Yes, that is the name. Rumah Gadang is a rectangular building with a signature part called gonjong. It is a buffalo horn-like roof. However, nowadays most of Rumah Gadang’s roof is in iron sheeting.

There are some rules to live in Rumah Gadang. A woman with her husband and children is the one who deserves the house. Meanwhile, the man in the family who has not been married yet cannot live there. He will stay in the surau, a small mosque near the house. If the man is married, he should live in his wife Rumah Gadang. Rumah Gadang marks not only a Minang’s traditional house but also strengthen matrilineal value in society.

Now you know why Minang is so famous for its matrilineal hierarchy. It is evident that the value spread out in so many aspects of life. What a unique Minang culture!


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