Sejarah Sumatra (Marsden)/Bab 14



By much the greater number of the legal disputes among these people have their source in the intricacy attending their marriage contracts. In most uncivilized countries these matters are very simple, the dictates of nature being obeyed, or the calls of appetite satisfied, with little ceremony or form of convention; but with the Sumatrans the difficulties, both precedent and subsequent, are increased to a degree unknown even in the most refined states. To remedy these inconveniences, which might be supposed to deter men from engaging in marriage, was the view of the Resident of Laye, before mentioned, who prevailed upon them to simplify their engagements, as the means of preventing litigation between families, and of increasing the population of the country. How far his liberal views will be answered by having thus influenced the people to change their customs, whether they will not soon relapse into the ancient track; and whether in fact the cause that he supposed did actually contribute to retard population, I shall not pretend to determine; but as the last is a point on which a difference of opinion prevails I shall take the liberty of quoting here the sentiments of another servant of the Company (the late Mr. John Crisp) who possessed an understanding highly enlightened.


This part of the island is in a low state of population, but it is an error to ascribe this to the mode of obtaining wives by purchase. The circumstance of children constituting part of the property of the parents proves a most powerful incentive to matrimony, and there is not perhaps any country on the face of the earth where marriage is more general than here, instances of persons of either sex passing their lives in a state of celibacy being extremely rare. The necessity of purchasing does not prove such an obstacle to matrimony as is supposed. Was it indeed true that every man was obliged to remain single till he had accumulated, from the produce of his pepper-garden, a sum adequate to the purchase of a wife, married pairs would truly be scarce. But the people have other resources; there are few families who are not in possession of some small substance; they breed goats and buffaloes, and in general keep in reserve some small sum for particular purposes. The purchase-money of the daughter serves also to provide wives for the sons. Certain it is that the fathers are rarely at a loss for money to procure them wives so soon as they become marriageable. In the districts under my charge are about eight thousand inhabitants, among whom I do not conceive it would be possible to find ten instances of men of the age of thirty years unmarried. We must then seek for other causes of the paucity of inhabitants, and indeed they are sufficiently obvious; among these we may reckon that the women are by nature unprolific, and cease gestation at an early age; that, almost totally unskilled in the medical art, numbers fall victims to the endemic diseases of a climate nearly as fatal to its indigenous inhabitants as to the strangers who settle among them: to which we may add that the indolence and inactivity of the natives tend to relax and enervate the bodily frame, and to abridge the natural period of their lives.


The modes of marriage, according to the original institutions of these people, are by jujur, by ambel anak, or by semando. The jujur is a certain sum of money given by one man to another as a consideration for the person of his daughter, whose situation, in this case, differs not much from that of a slave to the man she marries, and to his family. His absolute property in her depends however upon some nice circumstances. Beside the batang jujur (or main sum) there are certain appendages or branches, one of which, the tali kulo, of five dollars, is usually, from motives of delicacy or friendship, left unpaid, and so long as that is the case a relationship is understood to subsist between the two families, and the parents of the woman have a right to interfere on occasions of ill treatment: the husband is also liable to be fined for wounding her, with other limitations of absolute right. When that sum is finally paid, which seldom happens but in cases of violent quarrel, the tali kulo (tie of relationship) is said to be putus (broken), and the woman becomes to all intents the slave of her lord.*

(*Footnote. I cannot omit to remark here that, however apposite the word tali, which in Malayan signifies a cord, may be to the subject of the marriage tie, there is very strong evidence of the term, as applied to this ceremony, having been adopted from the customs of the Hindu inhabitants of the peninsula of India, in whose language it has a different meaning. Among others who have described their rites is M. Sonnerat. In speaking of the mode of marriage called pariam, which, like the jujur, n'est autre chose qu'un achat que le mari fait de sa femme, he says, le mari doit aussi fournir le tali, petit joyau d'or, qu'il attache avec un cordon au col de la fille; c'est la derniere ceremonie; elle donne la sanction au marriage, qui ne peut plus etre rompu des que le tali est attache. Voyage aux Indes etc. tome 1 page 70. The reader will also find the Sumatran mode of marriage by ambel anak, or adoption, exactly described at page 72. An engraving of the tali is given by P. Paolino, Systema Brahmanicum tab. 22. This resemblance is not confined to the rites of marriage, for it is remarked by Sir W. Jones that, "among the laws of the Sumatrans two positive rules concerning sureties and interest appear to be taken word for word from the Indian legislators." Asiatic Researches Volume 3 page 9.)

She has then no title to claim a divorce in any predicament; and he may sell her, making only the first offer to her relations. The other appendages as already mentioned are the tulis tanggil (the meaning of which I cannot satisfactorily ascertain, this and many other of the legal terms being in the Rejang or the Passummah and not the Malayan language) and the upah daun kodo, which is a consideration for the expense of the marriage feast, paid to the girl's parent, who provides it. But sometimes it is deposited at the wedding, when a distribution is made of it amongst the old people present. The words allude to the leaf in which the rice is served up. These additional sums are seldom paid or claimed before the principal is defrayed, of which a large proportion, as fifty, eighty, and sometimes a hundred and four dollars, is laid down at the time of marriage, or in the first visit (after the parties are determined in their regards) made by the father of the young man, or the bujang himself, to the father of the woman. Upon opening his design this money is tendered as a present, and the other's acceptance of it is a token that he is inclined to forward the match. It lies often in his hands three, six, or twelve months before the marriage is consummated. He sometimes sends for more, and is seldom refused. Until at least fifty dollars are thus deposited the man cannot take his wife home; but so long as the matter continues dalam rasa-an (under consideration) it would be deemed scandalous in the father to listen to any other proposals. When there is a difficulty in producing the necessary sum it is not uncommon to resort to an expedient termed mengiring jujur, that is, to continue a debtor with the family until he can raise money sufficient to redeem himself; and after this long credit is usually given for the remainder. Years often elapse, if the families continue on good terms, without the debt being demanded, particularly when a hundred and four dollars have been paid, unless distress obliges them to it. Sometimes it remains unadjusted to the second and third generation, and it is not uncommon to see a man suing for the jujur of the sister of his grandfather. These debts constitute in fact the chief part of their substance; and a person is esteemed rich who has several of them due to him for his daughters, sisters, aunts, and great aunts. Debts of this nature are looked upon as sacred, and are scarcely ever lost. In Passummah, if the race of a man is extinct, and some of these remain unpaid, the dusun or village to which the family belonged must make it good to the creditor; but this is not insisted upon amongst the Rejangs.

In lieu of paying the jujur a barter transaction, called libei, sometimes takes place, where one gadis (virgin) is given in exchange for another; and it is not unusual to borrow a girl for this purpose from a friend or relation, the borrower binding himself to replace her or pay her jujur when required, A man who has a son and daughter gives the latter in exchange for a wife to the former. The person who receives her disposes of her as his own child or marries her himself. A brother will give his sister in exchange for a wife, or, in default of such, procure a cousin for the purpose. If the girl given in exchange be under age a certain allowance per annum is made till she becomes marriageable. Beguppok is a mode of marriage differing a little from the common jujur, and probably only taking place where a parent wants to get off a child labouring under some infirmity or defect. A certain sum is in this case fixed below the usual custom, which, when paid, is in full for her value, without any appendages. In other cases likewise the jujur is sometimes lessened and sometimes increased by mutual agreement; but on trials it is always estimated at a hundred and twenty dollars. If a wife dies soon after marriage, or at any time without children, the full jujur cannot be claimed; it is reduced to eighty dollars; but should more than that have been laid down in the interim there is no refunding. The jujur of a widow, which is generally eighty dollars, without appendages, is again reduced upon a third marriage, allowances being made for dilapidation. A widow being with child cannot marry again till she is delivered, without incurring a penalty. In divorces it is the same. If there be no appearance of pregnancy she must yet abstain from making another choice during the period of three months and ten days.

When the relations and friends of the man go in form to the parents of the girl to settle the terms of the marriage they pay at that time the adat besasala, or earnest, of six dollars generally; and these kill a goat or a few fowls to entertain them. It is usually some space of time (except in cases of telari gadis or elopement) after the payment of the besasala, before the wedding takes place; but, when the father has received that, he cannot give his daughter to any other person without incurring a fine, which the young lady sometimes renders him liable to; for whilst the old folk are planning a match by patutan, or regular agreement between families, it frequently happens that miss disappears with a more favoured swain and secures a match of her own choice. The practice styled telari gadis is not the least common way of determining a marriage, and from a spirit of indulgence and humanity, which few codes can boast, has the sanction of the laws. The father has only the power left of dictating the mode of marriage, but cannot take his daughter away if the lover is willing to comply with the custom in such cases. The girl must be lodged, unviolated, in the house of some respectable family till the relations are advised of the enlevement and settle the terms. If however upon immediate pursuit they are overtaken on the road, she may be forced back, but not after she has taken sanctuary.

By the Mosaic law, if a man left a widow without children his brother was to marry her. Among the Sumatrans, with or without children, the brother, or nearest male relation of the deceased, unmarried (the father excepted), takes the widow. This is practised both by Malays and country people. The brother, in taking the widow to himself, becomes answerable for what may remain due of her purchase money, and in every respect represents the deceased. This is phrased ganti tikar bantal'nia--supplying his place on his mat and pillow.


Chastity prevails more perhaps among these than any other people. It is so materially the interest of the parents to preserve the virtue of their daughters unsullied, as they constitute the chief of their substance, that they are particularly watchful in this respect. But as marriages in general do not take place so early as the forwardness of nature in that climate would admit, it will sometimes happen, notwithstanding their precaution, that a young woman, not choosing to wait her father's pleasure, tastes the fruit by stealth. When this is discovered he can oblige the man to marry her, and pay the jujur; or, if he chooses to keep his daughter, the seducer must make good the difference he has occasioned in her value, and also pay the fine, called tippong bumi, for removing the stain from the earth. Prostitution for hire is I think unknown in the country, and confined to the more polite bazaars, where there is usually a concourse of sailors and others who have no honest settlement of their own, and whom, therefore, it is impossible to restrain from promiscuous concubinage. At these places vice generally reigns in a degree proportioned to the number and variety of people of different nations who inhabit them or occasionally resort thither. From the scenes which these sea-ports present travellers too commonly form their judgment, and imprudently take upon them to draw, for the information of the world, a picture of the manners of a people.

The different species of horrid and disgustful crimes, which are emphatically denominated, against nature, are unknown on Sumatra; nor have any of their languages terms to express such ideas.

INCEST sunting

Incest, atau pernikahan orang-orang dalam tingkatan persaudaraan tertentu, yang, mungkin (setidaknya seetelah tingkat pertama), ketimbang pertentangan melawan lembaga-lembaga kemanusiaan alih-alih kejahatan alami, dilarang menurut adat istiadat mereka dan dihukum denda: sehingga kesalahan tersebut seringkali diproses lewat sebuah acara, dan pernikahan tersebut terkonfirmasi dalam banyak percontohan.

ZINA sunting

Zina dihukum berat; namun kejahatan tersebut bersifat jarang, dan keselarasan subyek masih kurang terjadi. Sang suami mungkin entah merasa malu atau membalasnya dengan tangannya sendiri.

DIVORCES sunting

If a man would divorce a wife he has married by jujur he may claim back what he has paid in part, less twenty-five dollars, the adat charo, for the damage he has done her; but if he has paid the jujur in full the relations may choose whether they will receive her or not; if not he may sell her. If a man has paid part of a jujur but cannot raise the remainder, though repeatedly dunned for it, the parents of the girl may obtain a divorce; but if it is not with the husband's concurrence they lose the advantage of the charo, and must refund all they have received. A woman married by jujur must bring with her effects to the amount of ten dollars, or, if not, it is deducted from the sum; if she brings more the husband is accountable for the difference. The original ceremony of divorce consists in cutting a rattan­cane in two, in presence of the parties, their relations, and the chiefs of the country.


In the mode of marriage by ambel anak the father of a virgin makes choice of some young man for her husband, generally from an inferior family, which renounces all further right to, or interest in, him, and he is taken into the house of his father-in-law, who kills a buffalo on the occasion, and receives twenty dollars from the son's relations. After this the buruk baik'nia (the good and bad of him) is vested in the wife's family. If he murders or robs they pay the bangun, or the fine. If he is murdered they receive the bangun. They are liable to any debts he may contract after marriage; those prior to it remaining with his parents. He lives in the family in a state between that of a son and a debtor. He partakes as a son of what the house affords, but has no property in himself. His rice plantation, the produce of his pepper-garden, with everything that he can gain or earn, belong to the family. He is liable to be divorced at their pleasure, and, though he has children, must leave all, and return naked as he came. The family sometimes indulge him with leave to remove to a house of his own, and take his wife with him; but he, his children, and effects are still their property. If he has not daughters by the marriage he may redeem himself and wife by paying her jujur; but if there are daughters before they become emancipated the difficulty is enhanced, because the family are likewise entitled to their value. It is common however when they are upon good terms to release him on the payment of one jujur, or at most with the addition of an adat of fifty dollars. With this addition he may insist upon a release whilst his daughters are not marriageable. If the family have paid any debts for him he must also make them good. Should he contract more than they approve of, and they fear his adding to them, they procure a divorce, and send him back to his parents; but must pay his debts to that time. If he is a notorious spendthrift they outlaw him by means of a writ presented to the magistrate. These are inscribed on slips of bamboo with a sharp instrument, and I have several of them in my possession. They must banish him from home, and if they receive him again, or assist him with the smallest sum, they are liable to all his debts. On the prodigal son's return, and assurance of amendment, this writ may be redeemed on payment of five dollars to the proattins, and satisfying the creditors. This kind of marriage is productive of much confusion, for till the time it takes place the young man belongs to one dusun and family, and afterwards to another, and as they have no records to refer to there is great uncertainty in settling the time when debts were contracted, and the like. Sometimes the redemption of the family and their return to the former dusun take place in the second or third generation; and in many cases it is doubtful whether they ever took place or not; the two parties contradicting each other, and perhaps no evidence to refer to. Hence arise various and intricate bechars.


Besides the modes of marriage above described, a third form, called semando, has been adopted from the Malays, and thence termed semando malayo or mardika (free). This marriage is a regular treaty between the parties, on the footing of equality. The adat paid to the girl's friends has usually been twelve dollars. The agreement stipulates that all effects, gains, or earnings are to be equally the property of both, and in case of divorce by mutual consent the stock, debts, and credits are to be equally divided. If the man only insists on the divorce he gives the woman her half of the effects, and loses the twelve dollars he has paid. If the woman only claims the divorce she forfeits her right to the proportion of the effects, but is entitled to keep her tikar, bantal, and dandan (paraphernalia), and her relations are liable to pay back the twelve dollars; but it is seldom demanded. This mode, doubtless the most conformable to our ideas of conjugal right and felicity, is that which the chiefs of the Rejang country have formally consented to establish throughout their jurisdiction, and to their orders the influence of the Malayan priests will contribute to give efficacy.

In the ambel anak marriage, according to the institutions of Passummah, when the father resolves to dismiss the husband of his daughter and send him back to his dusun the sum for which he can redeem his wife and family is a hundred dollars: and if he can raise that, and the woman is willing to go with him, the father cannot refuse them; and now the affair is changed into a kulo marriage; the man returns to his former tungguan (settlement or family) and becomes of more consequence in society. These people are no strangers to that sentiment which we call a regard to family. There are some families among them more esteemed than others, though not graced with any title or employment in the state. The origin of this distinction it is difficult to trace; but it may have arisen from a succession of men of abilities, or from the reputation for wisdom or valour of some ancestor. Everyone has a regard to his race; and the probability of its being extinct is esteemed a great unhappiness. This is what they call tungguan putus, and the expression is used by the lowest member of the community. To have a wife, a family, collateral relations, and a settled place of residence is to have a tungguan, and this they are anxious to support and perpetuate. It is with this view that, when a single female only remains of a family, they marry her by ambel anak; in which mode the husband's consequence is lost in the wife's, and in her children the tungguan of her father is continued. They find her a husband that will menegga tungguan, or, as it is expressed amongst the Rejangs menegga rumah, set up the house again.

The semando marriage is little known in Passummah. I recollect that a pangeran of Manna, having lost a son by a marriage of this kind with a Malay woman, she refused upon the father's death to let the boy succeed to his dignities, and at the same time become answerable for his debts, and carried him with her from the country; which was productive of much confusion. The regulations there in respect to incontinence have much severity, and fall particularly hard on the girl's father, who not only has his daughter spoiled but must also pay largely for her frailty. To the northward the offence is not punished with so much rigour, yet the instances are there said to be rarer, and marriage is more usually the consequence. In other respects the customs of Passummah and Rejang are the same in these matters.


Upacara peernikahan, nikah (dari bahasa Arab), sederhananya terdiri dari dalam jabat tangan antar pihak dan membahas mempelai pria dan istri, tanpa upacara besar yang menampilkan hiburan yang diberikan pada acara tersebut. Ini ditunjukkan oleh salah satu ayah atau kepala dusun, menurut adat asli daerah tersebut; namun ketika Mahometanisme menerapkan caranya, seorang pendeta atau imam melangsungkan usaha tersebut.


But little apparent courtship precedes their marriages. Their manners do not admit of it, the bujang and gadis (youth of each sex) being carefully kept asunder, and the latter seldom trusted from under the wing of their mothers. Besides, courtship with us includes the idea of humble entreaty on the man's side, and favour and condescension on the part of the woman, who bestows person and property for love. The Sumatran on the contrary, when he fixes his choice and pays all that he is worth for the object of it, may naturally consider the obligation on his side. But still they are not without gallantry. They preserve a degree of delicacy and respect towards the sex, which might justify their retorting on many of the polished nations of antiquity the epithet of barbarians. The opportunities which the young people have of seeing and conversing with each other are at the bimbangs, or public festivals, held at the balei, or town hall of the dusun. On these occasions the unmarried people meet together and dance and sing in company. It may be supposed that the young ladies cannot be long without their particular admirers. The men, when determined in their regards, generally employ an old woman as their agent, by whom they make known their sentiments and send presents to the female of their choice. The parents then interfere and, the preliminaries being settled, a bimbang takes place.


Pada perayaan tersebut, seekor kambing, seekor kerbau, atau sejenisnya, menurut pangkat penyelenggara, disembelih, tak hanya untuk menghiburan para kerabat dan tamu undangan namun seluruh penduduk dari daerah tetangga yang memilih untuk menyaksikannya. Pemberian yang lebih besar lainnya adalah hak tuan rumah, yang umumnya pada kesempatan tersebut merupakan ayah dari gadis; namun cabang-cabang keluarga yang berbeda, dan kemudian seluruh orang dusun, memberikan sejumlah beras.


The young women proceed in a body to the upper end of the balei where there is a part divided off for them by a curtain. The floor is spread with their best mats, and the sides and ceiling of that extremity of the building are hung with pieces of chintz, palampores, and the like. They do not always make their appearance before dinner; that time, with part of the afternoon, previous to a second or third meal, being appropriated to cock-fighting and other diversions peculiar to the men. Whilst the young are thus employed the old men consult together upon any affair that may be at the time in agitation; such as repairing a public building or making reprisals upon the cattle of a neighbouring people. The bimbangs are often given on occasions of business only, and, as they are apt to be productive of cabals, the Europeans require that they shall not be held without their knowledge and approbation. To give authority to their contracts and other deeds, whether of a public or private nature, they always make one of these feasts. Writings, say they, may be altered or counterfeited, but the memory of what is transacted and concluded in the presence of a thousand witnesses must remain sacred. Sometimes, in token of the final determination of an affair, they cut a notch in a post, before the chiefs, which they call taka kayu.


In the evening their softer amusements take place, of which the dances are the principal. These are performed either singly or by two women, two men, or with both mixed. Their motions and attitudes are usually slow, and too much forced to be graceful; approaching often to the lascivious, and not unfrequently the ludicrous. This is I believe the general opinion formed of them by Europeans, but it may be the effect of prejudice. Certain I am that our usual dances are in their judgment to the full as ridiculous. The minuets they compare to the fighting of two game-cocks, alternately approaching and receding. Our country dances they esteem too violent and confused, without showing grace or agility. The stage dances I have not a doubt would please them. Part of the female dress, called the salendang, which is usually of silk with a gold head, is tied round the waist, and the ends of this they at times extend behind them with their hands. They bend forward as they dance, and usually carry a fan, which they close and strike smartly against their elbows at particular cadences. They keep time well, and the partners preserve a consistency with each other though the figure and steps are ad libitum. A brisker movement is sometimes adopted which proves more conformable to the taste of the English spectators.

SINGING sunting

Dancing is not the only amusement on these occasions. A gadis sometimes rises and, leaning her face on her arm, supporting herself against a pillar, or the shoulder of one of her companions, with her back to the audience, begins a tender song. She is soon taken up and answered by one of the bujangs in company, whose greatest pretensions to gallantry and fashion are founded on an adroitness at this polite accomplishment. The uniform subject on such occasions is love, and, as the words are extempore, there are numberless degrees of merit in the composition, which is sometimes surprisingly well turned, quaint, and even witty. Professed story-tellers are sometimes introduced, who are raised on a little stage and during several hours arrest the attention of their audience by the relation of wonderful and interesting adventures. There are also characters of humour amongst them who, by buffoonery, mimicry, punning, repartee, and satire (rather of the sardonic kind) are able to keep the company in laughter at intervals during the course of a night's entertainment. The assembly seldom breaks up before daylight, and these bimbangs are often continued for several days and nights together till their stock of provisions is exhausted. The young men frequent them in order to look out for wives, and the lasses of course set themselves off to the best advantage.

BUSANA sunting

Mereka mengenakan busana dengan sutra terbaik, yang mereka rajut sendiri; karena banyak hiasan yang ditambahkan ketika dibuat; cincin perak pada tangan dan kaki mereka; dan penindikan pada bagian tertentu. Rambut mereka dipakaikan dengan bunga-bunga dan diharumkan dengan minyak benzoin. Civet juga dipakai, namun lebih sering dipakai oleh pria.


To render their skin fine, smooth, and soft they make use of a white cosmetic called pupur. The mode of preparing it is as follows. The basis is fine rice, which is a long time steeped in water and let to ferment, during which process the water becomes of a deep red colour and highly putrid, when it is drained off, and fresh added successively until the water remains clear, and the rice subsides in the form of a fine white paste. It is then exposed to the sun to dry, and, being reduced to a powder, they mix with it ginger, the leaves of a plant called by them dilam, and by Europeans patch-leaf (Melissa lotoria, R.), which gives to it a peculiar smell, and also, as is supposed, a cooling quality. They add likewise the flowers of the jagong (maize); kayu chendana (sandalwood); and the seeds of a plant called there kapas antu (fairy-cotton), which is the Hibiscus abelmoschus, or musk seed. All these ingredients, after being moistened and well mixed together, are made up into little balls, and when they would apply the cosmetic these are diluted with a drop of water, rubbed between the hands, and then on the face, neck, and shoulders. They have an apprehension, probably well founded, that a too abundant or frequent application will, by stopping the pores of the skin, bring on a fever. It is used with good effect to remove that troublesome complaint, so well known to Europeans in India, by the name of the prickly heat; but it is not always safe for strangers thus to check the operations of nature in a warm climate. The Sumatran girls, as well as our English maidens, entertain a favourable opinion of the virtues of morning dew as a beautifier, and believe that by rubbing it to the roots of the hair it will strengthen and thicken it. With this view they take pains to catch it before sunrise in vessels as it falls.


If a wedding is the occasion of the bimbang the couple are married, perhaps, the second or third day; but it may be two or three more ere the husband can get possession of his bride; the old matrons making it a rule to prevent him, as long as possible, and the bride herself holding it a point of honour to defend to extremity that jewel which she would yet be disappointed in preserving.*

(*Footnote. It is recorded that the jealousy between the English and Dutch at Bantam arose from a preference shown to the former by the king at a festival which he gave upon obtaining a victory of this nature, which his bride had long disputed with him. For a description of a Malayan wedding, with an excellent plate representing the conclusion of the ceremony and the sleeping apartment, I beg to refer the reader to Captain Forrest's Voyage to New Guinea page 286 quarto edition. The bed-place is described at page 232 and the processional car (per­arakan) at page 241. His whole account of the domestic manners of the people of Mindanao, at the court of which he lived on terms of familiarity, will be found highly amusing.)

They sit up in state at night on raised cushions, in their best clothes and trinkets. They are sometimes loaded on the occasion with all the finery of their relations, or even the whole dusun, and carefully eased of it when the ceremony is over. But this is not the case with the children of persons of rank. I remember being present at the marriage of a young woman, whose beauty would not have disgraced any country, with a son of Raddin, prince of Madura, to whom the English gave protection from the power of the Dutch after his father had fallen a sacrifice.* She was decked in unborrowed plumes. Her dress was eminently calculated to do justice to a fine person; her hair, in which consists their chief pride, was disposed with extreme grace; and an uncommon elegance and taste were displayed in the workmanship and adjustment of her ornaments. It must be confessed however that this taste is by no means general, especially amongst the country people. Simplicity, so essential to the idea, is the characteristic of a rude and quite uncivilized people, and is again adopted by men in their highest state of refinement. The Sumatrans stand removed from both these extremes. Rich and splendid articles of dress and furniture, though not often procured, are the objects of their vanity and ambition.

(*Footnote. The circumstances of this disgraceful affair are preserved in a book entitled A Voyage to the East Indies in 1747 and 1748. This Raddin Tamanggung, a most intelligent and respectable man, died at Bencoolen in the year 1790. His sons possess the good qualities of their father, and are employed in the Company's service.)

The bimbangs are conducted with great decorum and regularity. The old women are very attentive to the conduct of the girls, and the male relations are highly jealous of any insults that may be shown them. A lad at one of these entertainments asked another his opinion of a gadis who was then dancing. "If she was plated with gold," replied he, "I would not take her for my concubine, much less for my wife." A brother of the girl happened to be within hearing, and called him to account for the reflection thrown on his sister. Krises were drawn but the bystanders prevented mischief. The brother appeared the next day to take the law of the defamer, but the gentleman, being of the risau description, had absconded, and was not to be found.


Adat orang-orang Sumatra mengijinkan mereka memiliki banyak istri sepanjang mereka dapat memenuhi kebutuhan atau keinginan yang diutamakan; namun sangat jarang contoh yang terjadi pada mereka yang memiliki lebih dari satu, dan hanya di kalangan sedikit pemimpin. This continence they in some measure owe to their poverty. The dictates of frugality are more powerful with them than the irregular calls of appetite, and make them decline an indulgence that their law does not restrain them from. In talking of polygamy they allow it to be the privilege of the rich, but regard it as a refinement which the poor Rejangs cannot pretend to. Some young risaus have been known to take wives in different places, but the father of the first, as soon as he hears of the second marriage, procures a divorce. A man married by semando cannot take a second wife without repudiating the first for this obvious reason that two or more persons could not be equally entitled to the half of his effects.


Montesquieu infers that the law which permits polygamy is physically conformable to the climate of Asia. The season of female beauty precedes that of their reason, and from its prematurity soon decays. The empire of their charms is short. It is therefore natural, the president observes, that a man should leave one wife to take another: that he should seek a renovation of those charms which had withered in his possession. But are these the real circumstances of polygamy? Surely not. It implies the contemporary enjoyment of women in the same predicament; and I should consider it as a vice that has its source in the influence of a warm atmosphere upon the passions of men, which, like the cravings of other disordered appetites, make them miscalculate their wants. It is probably the same influence, on less rigid nerves, that renders their thirst of revenge so much more violent than among northern nations; but we are not therefore to pronounce murder to be physically conformable to a southern climate. Far be it from my intention however to put these passions on a level; I only mean to show that the president's reasoning proves too much. It must further be considered that the genial warmth which expands the desires of the men, and prompts a more unlimited exertion of their faculties, does not inspire their constitutions with proportionate vigour; but on the contrary renders them in this respect inferior to the inhabitants of the temperate zone; whilst it equally influences the desires of the opposite sex without being found to diminish from their capacity of enjoyment. From which I would draw this conclusion, that if nature intended that one woman only should be the companion of one man, in the colder regions of the earth it appears also intended a fortiori that the same law should be observed in the hotter; inferring nature's design, not from the desires, but from the abilities with which she has endowed mankind.

Montesquieu has further suggested that the inequality in the comparative numbers of each sex born in Asia, which is represented to be greatly superior on the female side, may have a relation to the law that allows polygamy. But there is strong reason to deny the reality of this supposed excess. The Japanese account, taken from Kaempfer, which makes them to be in the proportion of twenty-two to eighteen, is very inconclusive, as the numbering of the inhabitants of a great city can furnish no proper test; and the account of births at Bantam, which states the number of girls to be ten to one boy, is not only manifestly absurd, but positively false. I can take upon me to assert that the proportion of the sexes throughout Sumatra does not sensibly differ from that ascertained in Europe; nor could I ever learn from the inhabitants of the many eastern islands whom I have conversed with that they were conscious of any disproportion in this respect.


But from whatever source we derive polygamy its prevalence seems to be universally attended with the practice of giving a valuable consideration for the woman, instead of receiving a dowry with her. This is a natural consequence. Where each man endeavours to engross several, the demand for the commodity, as a merchant would express it, is increased, and the price of course enhanced. In Europe on the contrary, where the demand is small; whether owing to the paucity of males from continual diminution; their coldness of constitution, which suffers them rather to play with the sentimental than act from the animal passion; their corruption of manners leading them to promiscuous concubinage; or, in fine, the extravagant luxury of the times, which too often renders a family an insupportable burden--whatever may be the cause it becomes necessary, in order to counteract it and produce an additional incitement to the marriage state, that a premium be given with the females. We find in the history of the earliest ages of the world that, where a plurality of women was allowed of, by law or custom, they were obtained by money or service. The form of marriage by semando among the Malays, which admits but of one partner, requires no sum to be paid by the husband to the relations of the wife except a trifle, by way of token, or to defray the expenses of the wedding-feast. The circumstance of the rejangs confining themselves to one, and at the same time giving a price for their wives, would seem an exception to the general rule laid down; but this is an accidental and perhaps temporary restraint, arising, it may be, from the European influence, which tends to make them regular and industrious, but keeps them poor: affords the means of subsistence to all, but the opportunity of acquiring riches to few or none. In their genuine state war and plunder caused a rapid fluctuation of property; the little wealth now among them, derived mostly from the India Company's expenditure, circulates through the country in an equal stream, returning chiefly, like the water exhaled in vapours from the sea, to its original source. The custom of giving jujurs had most probably its foundation in polygamy; and the superstructure subsists, though its basis is partly mouldered away; but, being scarcely tenantable, the inhabitants are inclined to quit, and suffer it to fall to the ground. Moderation in point of women destroying their principle, the jujurs appear to be devoid of policy. Open a new spring of luxury, and polygamy, now confined to a few individuals amongst the chiefs, will spread throughout the people. Beauty will be in high request; each fair one will be sought for by many competitors; and the payment of the jujur be again esteemed a reasonable equivalent for possession. Their acknowledging the custom under the present circumstances to be a prejudicial one, so contrary to the spirit of eastern manners, which is ever marked with a blind veneration for the establishments of antiquity, contributes to strengthen considerably the opinion I have advanced.

GAMING sunting

Through every rank of the people there prevails a strong spirit of gaming, which is a vice that readily insinuates itself into minds naturally indisposed to the avocations of industry; and, being in general a sedentary occupation, is more adapted to a warm climate, where bodily exertion is in few instances considered as an amusement.


Beside the common species of gambling with dice, which, from the term dadu applied to it, was evidently introduced by the Portuguese, they have several others; as the judi, a mode of playing with small shells, which are taken up by handfuls, and, being counted out by a given number at a time (generally that of the party engaged), the success is determined by the fractional number remaining, the amount of which is previously guessed at by each of the party.

CATUR sunting

Mereka juga memiliki berbagai permainan papan atau lainnya, dan orang-orang berpangkat tinggi umumnya terlibat dalam permainan catur, yang mereka namai main gajah serta menamai pion-pionnya sebagai berikut: raja; ratu atau wazir, mantri; uskup atau gajah; kesatria atau kuda; kastil, benteng, atau kereta kuda, ter; dan budak atau prajurit kaki. Untuk skak, mereka memakai kata sah; dan untuk skakmat, mat atau mati. Di antara nama-nama tersebut, hanya satu yang nampak diwajibkan karena these names the only one that appears to require observation as being peculiar is that for the castle or rook, which they have borrowed from the Tamul language of the peninsula of India, wherein the word ter (answering to the Sanskrit rat'ha) signifies a chariot (particularly such as are drawn in the processions of certain divinities), and not unaptly transferred to this military game to complete the constituent parts of an army. Gambling, especially with dice, is rigorously forbidden throughout the pepper districts, because it is not only the child, but the parent of idleness, and by the events of play often throws whole villages into confusion. Debts contracted on this account are declared to be void.


To cock-fighting they are still more passionately addicted, and it is indulged to them under certain regulations. Where they are perfectly independent their propensity to it is so great that it resembles rather a serious occupation than a sport. You seldom meet a man travelling in the country without a cock under his arm, and sometimes fifty persons in a company when there is a bimbang in one of the neighbouring villages. A country-man coming down, on any occasion, to the bazaar or settlement at the mouth of the river, if he boasts the least degree of spirit must not be unprovided with this token of it. They often game high at their meetings; particularly when a superstitious faith in the invincibility of their bird has been strengthened by past success. A hundred Spanish dollars is no very uncommon risk, and instances have occurred of a father's staking his children or wife, and a son his mother or sisters, on the issue of a battle, when a run of ill luck has stripped them of property and rendered them desperate. Quarrels, attended with dreadful consequences, have often arisen on these occasions.


By their customs there are four umpires appointed to determine on all disputed points in the course of the battles; and from their decision there lies no appeal except the Gothic appeal to the sword. A person who loses and has not the ability to pay is immediately proscribed, departs with disgrace, and is never again suffered to appear at the galan­gang. This cannot with propriety be translated a cockpit, as it is generally a spot on the level ground, or a stage erected, and covered in. It is inclosed with a railing which keeps off the spectators; none but the handlers and heelers being admitted withinside. A man who has a high opinion of and regard for his cock will not fight him under a certain number of dollars, which he places in order on the floor: his poorer adversary is perhaps unable to deposit above one half: the standers-by make up the sum, and receive their dividends in proportion if successful. A father at his deathbed has been known to desire his son to take the first opportunity of matching a certain cock for a sum equal to his whole property, under a blind conviction of its being betuah, or invulnerable.

MATCHES sunting

Cocks of the same colour are never matched but a grey against a pile, a yellow against a red, or the like. This might have been originally designed to prevent disputes or knavish impositions. The Malay breed of cocks is much esteemed by connoisseurs who have had an opportunity of trying them. Great pains is taken in the rearing and feeding; they are frequently handled and accustomed to spar in public, in order to prevent any shyness. Contrary to our laws, the owner is allowed to take up and handle his cock during the battle to clear his eye of a feather or his mouth of blood. When a cock is killed, or runs, the other must have sufficient spirit and vigour left to peck at him three times, on his being held to him for that purpose, or it becomes a drawn battle; and sometimes an experienced cocker will place the head of his vanquished bird in such an uncouth posture as to terrify the other and render him unable to give this proof of victory. The cocks are never trimmed, but matched in full feather. The artificial spur used in Sumatra resembles in shape the blade of a scimitar, and proves a more destructive weapon than the European spur. It has no socket but is tied to the leg, and in the position of it the nicety of the match is regulated. As in horse-racing weight is proportioned to inches, so in cocking a bird of superior weight and size is brought to an equality with his adversary by fixing the steel spur so many scales of the leg above the natural spur, and thus obliging him to fight with a degree of disadvantage. It rarely happens that both cocks survive the combat.

In the northern parts of the island, where gold-dust is the common medium of gambling, as well as of trade, so much is accidentally dropped in weighing and delivering that at some cock-pits, where the resort of people is great, the sweepings are said, probably with exaggeration, to be worth upwards of a thousand dollars per annum to the owner of the ground; beside his profit of two fanams (five pence) for each battle.


In some places they match quails, in the manner of cocks. These fight with great inveteracy, and endeavour to seize each other by the tongue. The Achinese bring also into combat the dial-bird (murei) which resembles a small magpie, but has an agreeable though imperfect note. They sometimes engage one another on the wing, and drop to the ground in the struggle.

FENCING sunting

They have other diversions of a more innocent nature. Matches of fencing, or a species of tournament, are exhibited on particular days; as at the breaking up of their annual fast, or month of ramadan, called there the puasa. On these occasions they practise strange attitudes, with violent contortions of the body, and often work themselves up to a degree of frenzy, when the old men step in and carry them off. These exercises in some circumstances resemble the idea which the ancients have given us of the pyrrhic or war dance; the combatants moving at a distance from each other in cadence, and making many turns and springs unnecessary in the representation of a real combat. This entertainment is more common among the Malays than in the country. The chief weapons of offence used by these people are the kujur or lance and the kris. This last is properly Malayan, but in all parts of the island they have a weapon equivalent, though in general less curious in its structure, wanting that waving in the blade for which the kris is remarkable, and approaching nearer to daggers or knives.

Among their exercises we never observe jumping or running. They smile at the Europeans, who in their excursions take so many unnecessary leaps. The custom of going barefoot may be a principal impediment to this practice in a country overrun with thorny shrubs, and where no fences occur to render it a matter of expediency.


They have a diversion similar to that described by Homer as practised among the Phaeacians, which consists in tossing an elastic wicker ball or round basket of split rattans into the air, and from one player to another, in a peculiar manner. This game is called by the Malays sipak raga, or, in the dialect of Bencoolen, chipak rago, and is played by a large party standing in an extended circle, who endeavour to keep up the ball by striking it either perpendicularly, in order to receive it again, or obliquely to some other person of the company, with the foot or the hand, the heel or the toe, the knee, the shoulder, the head, or with any other part of the body; the merit appearing to consist in producing the effect in the least obvious or most whimsical manner; and in this sport many of them attain an extraordinary degree of expertness. Among the plates of Lord Macartney's Embassy will be found the representation of a similar game, as practised by the natives of Cochin­china.


The Sumatrans, and more particularly the Malays, are much attached, in common with many other eastern people, to the custom of smoking opium. The poppy which produces it not growing on the island, it is annually imported from Bengal in considerable quantities, in chests containing a hundred and forty pounds each. It is made up in cakes of five or six pounds weight, and packed with dried leaves; in which situation it will continue good and vendible for two years, but after that period grows hard and diminishes considerably in value. It is of a darker colour, and is supposed to have less strength than the Turkey opium. About a hundred and fifty chests are consumed annually on the west coast of Sumatra, where it is purchased, on an average, at three hundred dollars the chest, and sold again in smaller quantities at five or six. But on occasions of extraordinary scarcity I have known it to sell for its weight in silver, and a single chest to fetch upwards of three thousand dollars.


The method of preparing it for use is as follows. The raw opium is first boiled or seethed in a copper vessel; then strained through a cloth to free it from impurities; and then a second time boiled. The leaf of the tambaku, shred fine, is mixed with it, in a quantity sufficient to absorb the whole; and it is afterwards made up into small pills, about the size of a pea, for smoking. One of these being put into the small tube that projects from the side of the opium pipe, that tube is applied to a lamp, and the pill being lighted is consumed at one whiff or inflation of the lungs, attended with a whistling noise. The smoke is never emitted by the mouth, but usually receives vent through the nostrils, and sometimes, by adepts, through the passage of the ears and eyes. This preparation of the opium is called maddat, and is often adulterated in the process by mixing jaggri, or pine sugar, with it; as is the raw opium, by incorporating with it the fruit of the pisang or plantain.


The use of opium among these people, as that of intoxicating liquors among other nations, is a species of luxury which all ranks adopt according to their ability, and which, when once become habitual, it is almost impossible to shake off. Being however like other luxuries expensive, few only among the lower or middling class of people can compass the regular enjoyment of it, even where its use is not restrained, as it is among the pepper-planters, to the times of their festivals. That the practice of smoking opium must be in some degree prejudicial to the health is highly probable; yet I am inclined to think that effects have been attributed to it much more pernicious to the constitution than it in reality causes. The bugis soldiers and others in the Malay bazaars whom we see most attached to it, and who use it to excess, commonly appear emaciated; but they are in other respects abandoned and debauched. The Limun and Batang Assei gold-traders, on the contrary, who are an active, laborious class of men but yet indulge as freely in opium as any others whatever, are notwithstanding the most healthy and vigorous people to be met with on the island. It has been usual also to attribute to the practice destructive consequences of another nature from the frenzy it has been supposed to excite in those who take it in quantities. But this should probably rank with the many errors that mankind have been led into by travellers addicted to the marvellous; and there is every reason to believe that the furious quarrels, desperate assassinations, and sanguinary attacks, which the use of opium is said to give birth to, are idle notions, originally adopted through ignorance and since maintained from the mere want of investigation, without having any solid foundation. It is not to be controverted, that those desperate acts of indiscriminate murder, called by us mucks, and by the natives mengamok, do actually take place, and frequently too in some parts of the East (in Java in particular) but it is not equally evident that they proceed from any intoxication except that of their unruly passions. Too often they are occasioned by excess of cruelty and injustice in their oppressors. On the west coast of Sumatra about twenty thousand pounds weight of this drug are consumed annually, yet instances of this crime do not happen (at least within the scope of our knowledge) above once in two or three years. During my residence there I had an opportunity of being an eyewitness but to one muck. The slave of a Portuguese woman, a man of the island of Nias, who in all probability had never handled an opium pipe in his life, being treated by his mistress with extreme severity for a trifling offence, vowed he would have revenge if she attempted to strike him again, and ran down the steps of the house with a knife in each hand, as it is said. She cried out, mengamok! The civil guard was called, who, having the power in these cases of exercising summary justice, fired half a dozen rounds into an outhouse where the unfortunate wretch had sheltered himself on their approach, and from whence he was at length dragged, covered with wounds. Many other mucks might perhaps be found, upon scrutiny, of the nature of the foregoing, where a man of strong feelings was driven by excess of injury to domestic rebellion.

It is true that the Malays, when in a state of war they are bent on any daring enterprise, fortify themselves with a few whiffs of opium to render them insensible to danger, as the people of another nation are said to take a dram for the same purpose; but it must be observed that the resolution for the act precedes, and is not the effect of, the intoxication. They take the same precaution previous to being led to public execution; but on these occasions show greater signs of stupidity than frenzy. Upon the whole it may be reasonably concluded that the sanguinary achievements, for which the Malays have been famous, or infamous rather, in history, are more justly to be attributed to the natural ferocity of their disposition, or to the influence upon their manners of a particular state of society, than to the qualities of any drug whatever. The pretext of the soldiers of the country-guard for using opium is that it may render them watchful on their nightly posts: we on the contrary administer it to procure sleep, and according to the quantity it has either effect. The delirium it produces is known to be so very pleasing that Pope has supposed this to have been designed by Homer when he describes the delicious draught prepared by Helen, called nepenthe, which exhilarated the spirits and banished from the mind the recollection of woe.

It is remarkable that at Batavia, where the assassins just now described, when taken alive, are broken on the wheel, with every aggravation of punishment that the most rigorous justice can inflict, the mucks yet happen in great frequency, whilst at Bencoolen, where they are executed in the most simple and expeditious manner, the offence is extremely rare. Excesses of severity in punishment may deter men from deliberate and interested acts of villainy, but they add fuel to the atrocious enthusiasm of desperadoes.


A further proof of the influence that mild government has upon the manners of people is that the piratical adventures so common on the eastern coast of the island are unknown on the western. Far from our having apprehensions of the Malays, the guards at the smaller English settlements are almost entirely composed of them, with a mixture of Bugis or Makasar people. Europeans, attended by Malays only, are continually travelling through the country. They are the only persons employed in carrying treasure to distant places; in the capacity of secretaries for the country correspondence; as civil officers in seizing delinquents among the planters and elsewhere; and as masters and supercargoes of the tambangans, praws, and other small coasting vessels. So great is the effect of moral causes and habit upon a physical character esteemed the most treacherous and sanguinary.