Stories from Minangkabau Through the Ages

Being born, live, and inherited in minangkabau, does not only makes me love its culinary 🙂 but also its folklore and literature. Based on my limited knowledge, my basic reading experiences, and my poor remembering abilities, here how I keep them in mind:

The folklore

1. Malin Kundang

The most famous classical tale which best known from minangkabau maybe about the rebel son, Malin Kundang. This story told us to always devote for our parent, specialy mother. Malin Kundang, the cursed son who doesn’t want to recognize his own mother because of her poverty, her old, and her ugly.

2.Sabai nan aluih

This story main theme is the strength of a woman. Sabai nan aluih is a girl name (‘nan’ can replaced by ‘who’ in english, ‘aluih’ means tender). Imagine the lucky beautiful girl who could be loved by everyone. That she was. But, like another folklore, her beauty make her in trouble while the news about her was heard by a tricky old king. And he want to marry Sabai. He propose to the girl’s father. But Sabai’s father refuse this proposal. And this tricky king doesn’t have broad minded to accept that refusal. So he challenge Sabai’s father to fight in Medan nan Bapaneh (if I not make any mistake about the place). The father go there. Despite to fight with the king, he want to make a conversation. But the tricky king shoot and kill him from the back. Sabai takes revenge by kill the king..

3. Gadih Ranti

This story told us to find the truth before believing the slander. Gadih Ranti is a girl who was slandered  incest with her brother. Than her father chase her and her brother away from their home and their village. Later the truth was revealed and their father fall into a deep regret. In world where no phone, email, limited transportation, repairing fault seem rather difficult, doesn’t it? But through the ages, slander always become a cruel thing to do.

4. Puruih wave This legend told me about ‘respecting your mother more than your lover and be careful when you take an oath’. Puruih is a part of padang beach where-I ever heard-have an unique wave sound. This story involve the queen who have 7 daughters. In order to expand her authority, she proposed to the neighbor king for her daughters. And they all accept it. Unfortunately, her daughters have their own lover, but except the youngest one, her daughters also got excited by the engagement news. Forgetting all of the oath they ever make to their lover, they accept the engagement. The youngest, who remember their oath to live together with their lover, remembering them about that oath and run away from home. The queen as the mother burn by the fury, curse her youngest daughter and suddenly she sink while sail through puruih beach to reach her lover. In other hand, while the other queen’s daughter sail through puruih beach to their new home with their-husband now- they never reached the land because of the oath they already said. And- I ever read- the wave sound of puruih beach seem like weeping in the night, that might be the sound of youngest daughter who never meet her lover.

Classical litterature

Reading this literatures of Minangkabau is the compulsory reading that I should to take when I was in high school. Although it was something that I should to do, surprisingly I enjoyed it. I hypnotized by the writing styles of the writers (some classical literature abroad-like Ernest Hemingway something-kinda more more boring), and I also feel closer with my culture as the side effect :). Correct me if I wrong, in the 19th century there so much literature have published and enriched by local culture. I could mention: Sitti Nurbaya, Robohnya Surau Kami, Tenggelamnya Kapal van der Wijk, Sengsara Membawa Nikmat, Salah Asuhan, etc. This lore isn’t that ‘heavy:) as the other classical literature *another subjective thought*, so if you are a kind of contemporary book reader, give it a little try, ok? Here some of them:

1. Sitti Nurbaya
Sitti Nurbaya,the popular one,is well known as the girl who forced to married by her father with the old Datuak Marringgih and unrealized her love with Samsul Bahri. Exactly in the real story, she doesn’t force to marry by her father. Otherwise, her father doesn’t want her to marry Datuak Marringgih. She just a devoted daughter who marry the old man and leave man she loved to pay her father loan.

2. Sengsara Membawa Nikmat
This the one classical literature with happy ending that I’ve read. About the rivalry Kacak and Midun. Start from zero (an ex prisoner, no money, no family) become hero (rich, famous, found soulmate :)). Too good to be true, but that why I like it 🙂

3. Tenggelamnya Kapal Van der Wijk
Firstly, I kinda confused by the title, because-in my opinion- the title doesn’t represent the whole story about the struggle of Zainudin, poor, orphan and doesn’t belong to any leg with Hayati, a minangkabau girl whom he in love with. But, later I forget about that title thing, because I got caught with Zainudin letter to Hayati (I read it when I was in high school, so that could be a factor that make me love the words :)). This story doesn’t have a happy ending 😥 and the ababil myself cried because of its ending! I can’t believe that I was so melancholy when I was a teenager :)!! *just a-not-important-subjective-thought 🙂

Nowadays, the only book I read from minangkabau writer only Negeri 5 Menara… Its seem like minangkabau writers aren’t growth quantitatively *MasangEkspresiSedih 😦


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