ART TRADITIONS IN THE MINANGKABAU
By Edy Utama
The tradition of arts in the Minangkabau community is very diverse. Culturally, the art traditions of the Minangkabau are divided into two major regions, that being the inland and the coastal areas. In both regions art grows and develops into a variety of forms with different characters. In the interior, which is the traditional settlement of the Minangkabau people, art forms such as randai, saluang (flute) music, talempong, tari piring (the saucer dance), and others have developed. This art is influenced by agrarian cultural traditions which are the basis of the Minangkabau community. On the other hand, along the coast, which is referred to as abroad, art forms like the rebab, gamat music and the indang dance developed with the influence of Islamic culture. The art of the coastal region, because of the interaction with other cultures in Asia or the West, is more dynamic in character and progresses remarkably.
However, all forms of Minangkabau art can be categorized as folk culture. They are developed based on participation and solidarity, which has become a unique characteristic of the Minangkabau matrilineal system. Conceptually, the art of Minangkabau is an integral piece of Minangkabau culture, reflecting the value and social systems to which they conform. Minangkabau culture holds the values of democracy and openness in high esteem, which is strongly reflected in the forms and patterns of their performing arts. There is much interaction between the performers and their audience, and they influence each other at various times. Almost no barriers exist between the performers and audience.
Due to the connection between the performers and the audience, many Minangkabau art performances are done in a circular shape. In the randai performance, Minangkabau folk theater, and also in Ulu Ambek martial arts, the circular shape is always used. Although in other art forms, such as tari piring, saluang and dendang music, the circular pattern is not explicitly used, the basic configuration of tari piring still refers to the circle. In saluang and dendang music performances, referred to as bagurau, the structure and pattern of the performance is built around the concept of familiarity, and strengthened by the musicians and audience sitting together. The communicative interaction and circular pattern of Minangkabau performing art forms are both a reflection of the social and value systems as well as the spirit of Minangkabau culture, which is transparent, dynamic and democratic.