The Traditional Decision-Making Process of Berkaul in Tanjung Emas, West Sumatra: Its Nature and Significance

By Uker, Damres; Fanany, Rebecca | SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, April 2011 | Go to article overview

The Traditional Decision-Making Process of Berkaul in Tanjung Emas, West Sumatra: Its Nature and Significance


Uker, Damres, Fanany, Rebecca, SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia


Background

Indonesia is unique in the variety of its cultures, languages, and people. While this diversity is perhaps most apparent between different ethnic groups, considerable differences are also observable within a given ethnic group at the local level. The customs that are traditional in a particular community in Indonesia are intertwined with the particular adat (local law and customs) practiced in that area and shape the institutions of regional society.

Adat maintains a position of particular importance in West Sumatra among the Minangkabau people, who pride themselves on their traditions and social structures. While the origins of many aspects of adat lie in the distant past, it is still possible to observe ancient practices in some parts of the region. A number of these customs relate to agriculture and especially to the cultivation of rice, the primary crop in the area. As is the case in other parts of Indonesia and the Malay world, rice enjoys a special significance, and the demands of its cultivation define the yearly agricultural cycle today as they have since before recorded history.

The traditional practice of berkaul associated with the rice planting cycle described here was observed in 2009 in Tanjung Emas, located in the Tanah Datar region of West Sumatra. Tanah Datar is one of the three original luhak, or regions, occupied by the Minangkabau people in the Sumatran highlands near Mount Merapi. This Minangkabau heartland is traditionally referred to as the darek, the centre of Minangkabau culture from which the people spread to form new communities in the rantau. The rantau is everywhere beyond the darek. In ancient times, it referred mostly to the coastal area along the Indian Ocean where the modern provincial capital of West Sumatra, the city of Padang, is located and other areas that are now part of the province. Gradually, the rantau expanded to include regions in neighbouring provinces (Jambi, Bengkulu, etc.) where large numbers of Minangkabau reside as well as more distant areas, including Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia.

Today the traditional spatial division of the Minangkabau world into the darek and rantau is still significant and is closely related to the traditional practice of merantau, leaving home to seek one's fortune. Originally, many of these perantau (those who left) were expected to return to the village where their experiences in other places were viewed as beneficial to the community and supporting their participation in its social life. In practice, however, many perantau settled permanently in other places, accounting for the large communities of Minangkabau in regions adjacent to West Sumatra, Jakarta, and beyond. Nonetheless, these Minangkabau, as well as those in the original rantau areas now in West Sumatra, still tend to view the practices and traditions of the darek as representing the most authentic manifestations of their culture. Not surprisingly, the adat of these darek regions tends to show greater continuity over time and less adaptation to outside influences than that of the rantau. It is for this reason that traditional practices in villages like Tanjung Emas are worthy of observation and provide insight into the original culture of this region and its people.

Berkaul as a Tradition in the Agricultural Cycle

Berkaul, the act of making a vow to be carried out if a particular venture is successful, has been a part of the agricultural cycle in Tanjung Emas, Tanah Datar, for generations. This event takes place at the start of the rice planting period when the rainy season is beginning. Berkaul, which is also known as turun ke sawah (going to the rice fields), marks the point at which the planting cycle can begin anew. Most of the rice fields in this area rely on availability of ambient water, which must be expertly managed to ensure a successful crop, and planting starts with the onset of the rainy season. Berkaul involves everyone who owns rice fields in the same contiguous area and provides an opportunity for discussion of any aspect of the agricultural process. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Traditional Decision-Making Process of Berkaul in Tanjung Emas, West Sumatra: Its Nature and Significance
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.