Orang Minangkabau History

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Traditional Roof of Minangkabau from Pasaman Barat Regency Office Building West Sumatra (image credit scopophilia.net)
This Indonesia myths and legends is one of the famous stories in Minangkabau People. This fairy tales explains the origin and the meaning of Minangkabau words.

The old name for Minangkabau is Alam, or "the world." The people of Alam are well known as clever and hardworking people. The country was green and beautiful.

About six hundred years ago, the king of Java sent an army to Alam. The military tells the people that the king was the king of all the golden island of Indonesia.

The army commander said to the leaders of Alam when that reached Bukit Batu Patah.

"You had better surrender. The king of Java is mighty. Otherwise, we will attack your country and kill many of your people."

"To fight is easy," replied the wise men of Alam.

"But who knows who will win? Why should we kill each other? Let's find a better way."

"Very well,” said the army commander. "What do you suggest?"

"Let us each brings a buffalo to fight. Your buffalo can fight with ours. If your Buffalo wins, then we will surrender to the king of Java. If our Buffalo wins, then we will continue to be free."

"Excellent,” said the army commander.

After a few days, he told the wise men of Alam that he had found a buffalo to fight for the king of Java. Their buffalo was big and frighten.

The wise men of Alam saw this buffalo and said, "Oh, we will lose. Where can we find a buffalo strong enough to fight with it?"

Then Alam people held a meeting. After talking for many hours, they made a plan. One of the men took a young buffalo calf from its mother. Another man fastened nine sharp pieces of iron to the tips of the calf's horns.

They did not allow the calf to drink any of its mother's milk for a day and night. Then, they went to see the army commander.

"We have found our buffalo," they said.

 "We are ready."

There was a great shout of laughter when the king of Java's soldiers saw the little calf. The wise men of Alam and all the assembled villagers kept quiet. The battle began.

The calf go ran towards to the frighten buffalo. This little calf thought it was his mother. It pressed it into the stomach of the big buffalo, looking for milk.

The big buffalo gave a great cry of pain. The sharp pieces of iron fastened in the tips of the calf's horns stuck into the big buffalo stomach. The little calf pushed back this big buffalo. The big buffalo run away as fast as it could from this little calf.

The people of Alam shouted, "Minangkabau! Minangkabau!

Minangkabau meaning is “Our Buffalo has won.” Minang is Menang (win). Kabau is Kerbau or buffalo.

The king of Java's soldiers stopped laughing. They had lost. There was nothing left for them to do but to exit the country.

The people of Alam were still free. However, they changed the name of their land to "Minangkabau" or "The buffalo's Victory."

That is why to this day the roofs of their houses made to look like buffalo horns.

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