The Minangkabau Response to Dutch Colonial Rule Nineteenth Century

By Elizabeth E. Graves | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
THE VILLAGE AND THE WORLD BEYOND

Although in many ways the nagari are self-contained units, worlds motivated by the internal play of politics and the struggle to attain wealth and prestige, the villagers are well aware of the world outside. Many rely on that outside world for supplements to their daily livelihood, mainly through a process known as merantau, meaning to go abroad. The village society as a whole has also always had relations with the outside. Some of these resulted from institutional arrangements, such as those with the Minangkabau raja, and some are the consequences of historical forces moving in the outer world, for example the Islamic revolution of the early nineteenth century. These different types of outside relationships affected the village in different ways, reflecting, in the course of the interaction, inherent strengths and weaknesses in village society and sometimes in the outside elements also.


The Raja of Pagarruyung

In theory, at least, the various Minangkabau nagari, which otherwise acted much like petty autonomous republics, were joined into one geographic and political entity under the Yang Dipertuan Besar (He Who is Made Great), the Raja of Pagarruyung, the Ruler of Minangkabau. His position, at the supranagari level, in function and design corresponded roughly to that of the penghulu at the nagari level. Two other “raja” were subordinate to him, the Raja Adat (Ruler over Adat Affairs) and the Raja Ibadat (Ruler over Religious Affairs).1 It has been variously suggested that these two

1 P. E. de Josselin de Jong, Minangkabau and Negri Sembilan: Socio-Political Structure in Indonesia

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