The Minangs were also known for their Adat Pepatih, ulamaks, literary writers, folklores and tongue-tingling Padang cuisine. The link between Sumatra and Semenanjung Tannah Melayu dated back to the time of Bukit Seguntang Mahameru at Palembang, where the ancestors of the Malay kings and subjects had their first Social Contract or wa'adat. The pact between Sang Sapurba and Demang Lebar Daun stipulated that the ra'ayat will the king's loyal subjects for as long as the king treat them with dignity.
Thus Bapak's posting to the hill station where the Japanese military had their 25th regiment was heavensent and a belated honeymoon for Mak. The cool air at Bukit Tinggi, the surrounding lakes and valleys were the perfect retreat for Mak, away from the brutality of the Kempetei and the near famine in Japanese-occupied Singapore. She had just settled into married life and had her first born son, who was named after 'Bung Hatta', a native of Sumatera Barat who became the first Indonesian Deputy President.
At Bukit Tinggi, Mak was initiated to the Indonesian struggle for Independence, its literature, folklore, music and cuisine. Through the works of Marah Rusli, one of the pioneer novelists in Indonesia, and 'Pak Hamka', a literary giant who later became a revered ulamak, Mak immersed herself in narratives of love vs arranged marriages, poverty vs power, status and wealth, modernity vs the 'Adat' in Sitti Nurbaya (Kasih Tak Sampai) and Tenggelamnya Kapal Van Der Wijk.
The Adat Pepatih was supposed to favour women in terms of property and inheritance but it still gave power to make decisions in the hands of the Elders. "Biar mati anak, jangan mati adat" (Let the child die but let the Adat live) reflected the belief that age-old conventions should over ride immature behavior or impudent resistance.
The popular folktales such as Malin Kundang (Anak Durhako - the Prodigal Son) and Sabai Nan Aluih emphasized the importance of filial piety to the young. Malin Kundang is the Minang's version of Si Tanggang while Sabai was a feisty young lady who avenged her father's death. Set against the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding hills and valleys of Sawah Luntor, Pagar Ruyung (the seat of the Minangkabau kings), Batu Sangkar, Merapi, Lembah siAnok and Tarai Anai, the local legends gave life to the people, places (Aie Manieh, Lembah Harau, Sawah Lunto) and other living beings in that enchanting landscape.
|Ancestral Home or Rumah Gadang|
|Malin Kundang before he was turned to stone|