Topic: CultureTraditions

Last updated: March 20, 2019

Indonesia is one of the most ethnically diverse country, with over 300 ethnic groups with at least 95 percent are native Indonesia. Each ethnic group have different versions of local customs, beliefs, and practices, it is usually called “adat” in Indonesia. “Adat” has become the foundation for ethnic identity that is shared throughout Indonesia.

As the globalization widens, Indonesia ethnic groups are still strongly hold to their “Adat”. One of the ethnic groups that I am going to talk in this essay is Minangkabau of West Sumatra. The Minangkabau is one of the largest ethnic groups in Indonesia, that lives in a matrilineal and Islamic society. Minangkabau is interesting because they adapt both matrilineal and Islam structure, in which there are contradictions according to their gender ideology. Minangkabau stands out because of its matrilineal organization. According to in which properties are inherited through female lineage. Men usually do not have power to own a house because all properties belong to the women.

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This matrilineal structure has passed down from generation to generation and because of this structure Minangkabau women are perceived as superior and have greater stature than men. However, In Islam’s ideology, women do not have higher stature than men. Men are seen as the appropriate leader in the society, where women are expected to support men behind it. Even though Islam solidified its presence in West Sumatra in the early 1800s, the restrictions that women have in Islam did not affect Minangkabau matrilineal structure. The strength of women’s position in the Minangkabau society did not change even after the Islam’s penetration.Thus, this has an impact in the characteristic of Minangkabau women because of the power that the structure attributed to them. Although it is a stereotype, Minangkabau women are seen to have strong characteristic such as independent, ambitious, and stubborn. In comparison, Javanese live in a patriarchy society in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is reckoned through the male line.

Javanese women are expected to devoted to their husbands. Moreover, Javanese women are generally seen as obedient, shy, and polite.For this essay, the conceptual model that I have chosen to discuss my culture is Dodd’s model. Dodd (1998) identify cultural components into three layers, the inner core, the intermediate layer and the outer layer. According to Dodd (1998), inner culture consists of cultural components that is passed down from generation to generation and present its members with a sense of identity (cited in Liu, Volc?ic?& Gallois, 2015).

It includes cultural components such as history, identity, beliefs, values, and worldview. In Minangkabau society, people follow their ethnic traditions, or “adat” based upon the Islamic law. Their values and beliefs are strongly based on Islam, with a matrilineal structure. They believed that women should be the one who inherited lands and houses, whereas man should be the one who seek for jobs and have bring fortune to the family, without having the rights to own any properties. The intermediate layer according to Dodd (1998), includes of activities as manifestations of culture that can be represent in several ways such as technology, material objects, roles, rules, rituals, customs, communication patterns, and artistic expressions. Lots of rituals in Minangkabau are celebration of Islam, including Islamic Festivals called “Hari Rayo” or Eid al-Fitr and “Maanta Pabukoan” which is the rituals of serving food for Ramadhan. There are also traditional homes of the Minangkabau in which the architecture, construction, and the functions of the house are the reflection of cultural values of the Minangkabau.

The house or “Rumah Gadang” is a place for residence, family meetings, or ceremonial activities. The women of the family who live there owns the house.Lastly, the outer layer of culture according to Dodd’s model of culture, are referred to the systems that are products of culture, consists of religion, economy, politics, family, healthcare and education (1998). The strength of Dodd’s model of culture (1998) in And the weakness of Dodd’s model of culture (1998)As been told before, we can conclude that in Minangkabau society women have greater position than men because of the matrilineal system. My family identify themselves as parts of Minangkabau people and adapt the values of matrilineal.

Being a part of the Minangkabau I have always feel that women deserve higher position than men. I believe that women have greater position considering they are the birth giver of all individuals on earth. In family meetings, it is visible that women in my family has more powerful position than men. All of my family properties are passed down from women to women.The women in my family also have strong characteristic compare to the men.

This also has shaped my personality and attitude as a Minangkabau women. The traits


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