Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nusantarian matrilineal society

In the name of God, the Most Loving, the Most Merciful
Many Nusantarian societies (Indonesians, Malaysians, Micronesian, Melanesian, Champa, Moken, Degar,  and Polynesian) were originally matrilineal 4000 years ago. In Indonesia, majority of the ethnics today practise patrilineal and matrilineal descent system meaning they trace their descendent line from both mother and father. Inheritance is also passed to sons and daughters equally. This is true especially for Java people, Sunda people and Bugis people which make up to 140++ million people. Only Minangkabau a.k.a Minang, Kerinci and Temuan people of Indonesia and Malaysia practise matrilineal but not patrilineal descent. Ancestral inheritance is also passed down to daughters only.

Matrilineal Nusantarian ethnics ( Cham, Ede, Jarai and some Degar ethnics ) living in Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia are minority communities there.  Some  Melanesian, Polynesian and Micronesian societies like Chamoro and Marshallese (who are also Austronesian ethnics) continue to practise matrilineal customs even after embracing Christianity. However many of these ethnics today are patrilineal .
Minang child with traditional headdress ( suntiang / sanggul lintang)). This headdress is also worn by Malays in Malaysia. 
 To purchase the adult version of this headdress in ebay, please Click here.

Minang ethnic consists of several clans and each clan has a womb name (perut). Their matrilineal system (Adat Perpatih) was founded by a man named Datuk Perpatih. He lined out that women should inherit ancestral's land because in case a woman is divorced from her husband, she and her children will not be homeless and has a land to live in.Minang society is also strongly patriarchal of which only men can be leaders for each clan. These leaders guard the ancestral land to ensure the women will not sell the land upon the order of their husbands.

Below are some of Minangkabau artifacts. Minangkabau today are predominantly Muslims.  Click here to read more about them.

Indonesia is not only world's largest matrilineal country. It also has the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur and has the highest muslim population in the world

  Pictures above are taken from here and here

Minang clan names are only used for inheritance and marriage purpose. Two persons from the same clan are not allowed to marry one another because they had the same ancestral mother. The Minangs believe that women pass their genes to their children more than men. When couples from the same clan marry one another they might produce offsprings with defective genes. Their matrilineal clan name is not a symbol of pride and power like in patrilineal culture. In Malaysia, the rule is changed that a couple from the same clan can get married by conducting a ceremony to apologize to their ancestral mother in order to get married. In Indonesia,women from certain clans propose their future husband and give dowry.

Minang like other Malay ethnics also have their own postpartum care and massage. During the postpartum treatment, a woman is not allowed to do heavy activities , have to take special steam bath, have to eat special diets and cannot have sexual intercourse with their husbands for 100 days after delivery to ensure they are completely healed . Click here to view how Malay postpartum care looks like

Minang also have their own martial art, silat, like other Malays of Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillipines, Southern Thailand and Singapore.Sometimes their silat is performed on broken glasses. DO NOT try this at home. Minangkabau dance also involve stepping on broken plates usually perfomed by women.

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