Penghulu – Minangkabau Culture A unit of family in Minangkabau society as mentioned above is consist of big family which is called pariuk or perut, kampueng or suku, depending on the area, weather they are on lowland or on the mountain area. But it shows the smallest unit of a family, reflected in the architecture of their house called ” Rumah Gadang” Kampueng or Suku was formed by Datuk Parpatih Nan Sebatang based on his visit to China. The way the Chinese identify their family by using family names amazed him and inspired him to manage the people of Minangkabau with this system. At the beginning it is said only 2 groups were exist those were the group of Suku Koto Piliang and Suku Bodi Caniago. As the number and area of West Sumatra was to wide, each of these Suku again divided into smaller units. At some places a Suku had far bigger number of residents, while the Suku of their neighbors had much fewer members. Since the marriage is regulated between Suku, so it was not enough for one Suku that had bigger members to merry the Suku with fewer member. Based on this condition, again the bigger Suku was divided into smaller unit of Sukus called Paruik or Perut. Here Perut became the smaller unit of administration. A Suku or Perut is headed by 4 elders: The Penghulu, the Malim, the Manti and the Dubalang. In adat meetings, every invited party (usually males) can express his opinion freely. (Though Minangkabau culture is regarded matrilineal, only males can attend adat meetings). Criticisms can be addressed openly to a penghulu, a top leader of a nagari (district), so that the penghulu can accommodate everyone’s opinion before making decisions. Basically an individual can give any comment to anyone including elderly people; however, to someone older and higher in status, the comments should be addressed respectfully.
The only ethnic of Indonesia using mother line or mother genealogy as the main lineage of family heir in Indonesia. In relation to the family genealogy and heritages the Minangkabau has typical tradition called matrilineal or matriarchart system. Children are considered belong to the mother and her sister(s), not belong to father and his sister(s) or brother(s). A father seems to be out of the family, out of his wife and his children. He has no right to claim the heritage(s) of the family and acts as the guard only for the whole heritages and heirlooms of the family to be safe, or just like a security for a company. The concept of a family in Minangkabau society is different from the rest of Indonesian ethnic group, the core family ( father, mother and their children ) is not a family, but is only part of a of a family. The understanding of a family in Minangkabau society is a unit consist of mother’s sister(s), mother’s brother(s), son(s) and daughter(s) of mother’s sister(s). While father and his son(s) are belong to other family that is father’s sister(s).
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