The Minangkabau ethnic group, also known as Minang (Urang Minang in Minangkabau language), is indigenous to the Minangkabau Highlands of West Sumatra, in Indonesia. Their culture is matrilineal, with property and land passing down from mother to daughter, while religious and political affairs are the responsibility of men. Today 4 million Minangs live in West Sumatra, while about 3 million more are scattered throughout many Indonesian and Malay peninsular cities and towns.
Traditional Minangkabau music includes saluang jo dendang which consists of singing to the accompaniment of a saluang bamboo flute, and talempong gong-chime music. Dances include the tari piring (plate dance), tari payung (umbrella dance) and tari indang (also known as endang or badindin). Demonstrations of the silat martial art are performed. Pidato adat are ceremonial orations performed at formal occasions.
The Indonesian National Monument is a 132 m tower in the centre of Merdeka Square. Construction began in 1961 under the direction of President Soekarno. Monas was opened to the public in 1975. It is topped by a flame covered with gold foil.
Indonesia’s numbers astound: more than 17,000 islands, of which 8000 are inhabited, and over 300 languages spoken across them. It’s a beguiling country offering myriad adventures. The world’s fourth most populous country is a sultry kaleidoscope draped along the equator for 5000km. From Sumatra’s western tip to Papua’s eastern edge, Indonesia defies homogenisation. It’s a land of so many cultures, peoples, animals, customs, plants, sights, artworks and foods that it’s like 100 countries melded into one.The people are as radically different from each other as if they came from different continents, with every island a unique blend of the people who live there. Over time, deep and rich cultures have evolved, from the mysteries of the spiritual Balinese to the utterly non-Western belief system of the Asmat people of Papua. Dramatic sights are the norm. There’s the sublime: an orang-utan lounging in a tree. The artful: a Balinese dancer executing precise moves that would make a robot seem loose-limbed. The idyllic: a deserted stretch of blinding white sand on Sumbawa contrasting with azure surf breaks. The astonishing: Sunday mobs in a cool, glitzy Jakarta mall. The intriguing: the too-amazing-for-fiction tales of the beautiful Banda Islands’ twisted history. The heart-stopping: the ominous menace of a Komodo dragon. The humbling: a woman bent double with a load of firewood on Sumatra. The delicious: a south Bali restaurant. The shocking: the funeral ceremonies of Tana Toraja. The solemn: Borobudur’s serene magnificence. More on Lonely Planet.