A Minangkabao Village

I’m writing this blog post in a smoky, crowded internet cafe near the Harau valley. I’m sitting on the floor because there are no chairs. The local crowd isn’t shy; they are snuggled up next to me watching me type, asking about my photos, asking if they can be my friend on facebook.  For a long time they were talking to me and making it tough to concentrate on writing the blog, but I think they are getting a little bored now and only a couple are left watching.

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Last Tuesday, the 14th, P and A and I set off in the morning to visit A’s village and see some of the countryside around Bukittinggi. Shortly after leaving the city (which I’ve just discovered has a lot more people than I thought – someone told me 115,000) we ran in to a pig hunt in the rice paddies. Apparently the wild pigs are a nuisance, not to mention unclean according to Muslims. So, they raise dogs in order to hunt the pigs. Dogs are an unusual sight in most of Indonesia because they are also considered unclean, but the people here make an exception in order to hunt the pigs. They seem to be attached to the dogs here as pets also, not just raising them as hunting animals.

The hunt was huge. I would say there were at least 50 people and dogs at the edge of the road for the hunt. Most of them were just lined up waiting; they would let four or five dogs loose at one time. The dogs ran way out into the rice paddies and even into the forest beyond. There are no guns, the dogs perform both the hunting and the killing. My impression was it was an afternoon of fun for the guys with dogs, just like hunting back home.

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The scene at the edge of the road.

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Part of the masses waiting their turn to release the hounds.

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So many hunters they blocked the road.

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In the background, that pickup is one of the nicest hunting vehicles I saw. There are three dogs in the back.

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And they're off!

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Dogs can ride motorcycles here, too.

After stopping to photograph the pig hunt, we continued on along the roads near Bukittinggi.

The natives of this part of Sumatra are called the Minangkabao. Traditional houses look like this:

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The curved shape of the roof imitates buffalo horns.

Minangkabao means ‘Victorious buffalo’ in the Minang language. The legend goes that the Minangkabao people once settled a territorial dispute by a fight between two buffalo. Their opponents fielded the biggest, meanest animal they could find, but the Minangkabao chose to compete with a starving baby buffalo with sharpened horns. The big buffalo was not threatened and didn’t try to fight the baby, but when the starving baby tried to nurse it stabbed the adult to death.

Most of the houses around here don’t have the Minangkabau look though, and I saw at least one with decoration of a different kind.

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Someone has been studying the wrong kind of English.

Also along the road to A’s village, we stopped at a cave.

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Outside the cave, we met this nice gentleman. He was on his way out to scavenge some durian fruit from the trees beyond the cave. He only spoke the Minang language, not Indonesian, so A had to do all the translating.

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Getting closer to A's village...

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Here's the only Minangkabao style house I saw in A's village Even way out here, they've got satellite tv.

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Another house in his village.

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This one could use some help on the foundation.

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The village mosque, right next door to A's house.

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A's house is on the left, and his sister's house is on the right. They hosted P and I in his sister's house, probably because it's nicer.

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A's niece, so cute she's featured in quite a few photos here.

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Inside A's sister's house.

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This one was not shy.

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P and A's niece facing off. I think she won the staring contest.

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A's family doesn't have a fancy satellite dish, just that antenna hanging from the ceiling.

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A with his mom.

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A's sister and her daughter. The sister was all smiles until it was time to take photos, when she went stone faced until it was over.

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There's A's dad on the left. He is a farmer, and his mom used to be but now she's too frail for the hard work.

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They really enjoyed it when we showed them the photos we were taking.

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A better view of A's house. It could use a little work.

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Getting ready to leave.

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On the way home, we stopped at this gas station. There are totally modern gas stations here on the main roads, but this one was more remote. Even farther into the countryside, it's common for people to sell jugs of gas out their front door.

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Here's a more modern mosque in a village near A's. I see lots of shiny new ones as well as older ones around here.

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4 thoughts on “A Minangkabao Village

    • Yeah, it was awesome to see all the dogs lined up there. Also, I was thinking of you when I took the photos of that house coming off it’s foundation. I think it could use a little digging and some concrete.

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