Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung (Perkampungan Adat Nagari Sijunjung) located at two villages, Jorong Koto Padang and Tanah Bato, of Sijunjung regency of West Sumatra. The main setting of settlement is in a linier position lies between two large rivers, namely Batang Sukam and Batang Kulampi. The compound of traditional houses is surrounded by hills, forest, paddy fields, and plantation. There are 76 houses in this area inhabited by nine clans and their subordinate clans. The traditional houses symbolize matrilineal-based clans in nagari, customary village of Minangkabau. It consists of paddy fields and plantation, graveyards, mosques and madrasah-Islamic school, market, and balai adat (customs hall).
Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung represents matrilineal system of the Minangkabau society. Not much settlement in Minangkabau area have a complete components and people living in the houses with its traditional ways. However, the clans of Sijunjung settlement are still lived in their social organization system based on unique of its following traits: system of lineage through female descendants, each clan member is required to espouse other clan members (exogamy), matri-local marriages, and rights and heirlooms are inherited from mamakto kamanakan (a woman’s brother to his nephews).This system represented by stratified family group consists of nuclear family, extended family, family clan. Each stratified family group headed by a male clan member called mamak and amongst mamak, they will elect a clan leader called penghulu. Each traditional house in this region symbolizes proprietorship of inheritance by and through female descendants bound by the mother’s genealogy.
Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung is a representation of settlement that reflects matrilineal Minangkabau society with its rumah gadang (literally means ‘big house) that implements the entity and serves as a tangible form of Minangkabau matrilineal system. The main function of rumah gadang is to preserve the matrilineal system. A traditional rumah gadang is an ensign of a clan in Minangkabau society; every clan has its own traditional rumah gadang. Traditional rumah gadang also symbolizes gender equality and the dignity of female and ethnicity. Women remain secure even when the married ones divorce from their marriages, as they still stay in their own house after marriage. Rumah gadang is also a sign of social position of a person. According to tradition, one can still be stated as a Minangkabau so far as one (still) owns traditional rumah gadang. Every traditional rumah gadang has spacious yards planted with various useful plants, aimed at maintaining the environment and ecology in harmony and equilibrium.
Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung complies with the philosophy of “natural realm as teacher”. The existence of rumah gadang manifests a result of learning process of society toward natural realm. If one is to observe and comprehend it, one shall find and discover the local genius of Minangkabau society. Likewise, Traditional rumah gadang is also a means to bequeath traditional values.
Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung still retains the characteristics of Minangkabau culture with the philosophy of “natural realm as teacher”. These can be demonstrated by Minangkabau tradition, ceremonies, settlement arrangement, houses, and environmental setting. Elements of Traditional settlement at Sijunjung, such as rumah gadang and its decorative art demonstrate an outstanding design, technique, functional concept, and workmanship. In this regard, the heritage has an indispensable scientific value as a source of Minangkabau settlement which represents a matrilineal system.
Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung is a part of living tradition. It is a manifestation of matrilineal system and with the Islamic belief system which governs the daily life of the society. It is related to various ceremonies and customs within the Minangkabau cultural system. Indeed, it has strong emotional ties with the society. The nominated heritage has a strong identity as well as social values not only for Minangkabau people but also for other ethnic groups which enriches the diversity of the Indonesian culture.
From the above, it is clear that the Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung is significant for a number of reasons.
Critrion (iii): Up to present, the Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung contains a uniqueness traditional culture that still exists. The villages are still inhabited by the clans, their members maintaining tradition, social structure, and leadership according to Minangkabau’s cultural values, such as batuka tando (exchange of gifts), maantar marapulai (accompanying a groom to the house of his bride), batagak pangulu (inaugurating a clan leader), bakaua adat (swearing a traditional oath), mambantai adat (livestock butchering) and batoboh (mutual cooperation).
Critrion (v): The Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung reflects a local wisdom that sharing the space for nature and culture as well as an imaginary vision that sharing the space into the life and afterlife. Those notions are reflected on the elements of the traditional settlement such as houses, customary hall, mosque and madrasah (Islamic school), market, graveyard, paddy field and plantation. Minangkabau Tambo, a classic Minangkabau saga, affects the arrangement setting of rumah gadang in landscape.
Integrity: Minangkabau peoples view the nature as “teacher”, hence, the inhabitants of the village have a local wisdom in distributing space of nature become space of culture. The nature space is allotted in accordance to its shape. Minangkabau proverb says “tanah yang lereng tanami padi, yang tunggang tanami bambu, yang datar jadikan kebun, yang basah jadikan sawah, yang padat untuk perumahan, yang ketinggian jadikan kuburan, yang berlubuk jadikan tambak ikan, yang padat tempat gembala, yang berlumpur kubangan kerbau, yang berawa tempat itik berenang.” The above proverb literally means: “sloping land is to be planted with rice, steep land is for planting, flat land is for kaleyard, wet land is for rice field, solid lands are for housing, the high land is for graveyard, water depths for fish embankment, the solid land for shepherds, the mud land is for wallow, the fenny land is for avian playgrounds.
The Traditional Settlement at Nagari Sijunjung is a living tradition. It is a heritage that has been handed over from generation to generation since 14th century. Indeed, as a living culture, changes occurred along the time. This settlement has located in isolated land between two rivers and not much contacted with the modern lifestyle. However, all of these changes should be understood as a dynamic process that commonly occurs within a living culture. These changes are part of the historical stratification. The property meets the integrity in many aspects such as cosmology, customs and ceremonies, settlement pattern, housing construction and ornamental design, and paddy fields and plantation.
Authenticity: Traditional settlement at Nagari Sijunjung remains original since time Pagaruyung Kingdom starting from 14th century. The originality of this village is shown by its housing pattern. All of clan rumah gadang (which is considered as early houses) located at street side, whose borders are marked by using certain plants (usually palm tree). Several rumah gadang have original carvings, traditionally called buah palo patah, kuciang lalok jo saik galamai, aka duo gagang, kaluak paku kacang balimbiang. In terms of architecture a traditional rumah gadang has a peculiarity in wooden building structure and shape of the roof resembles buffalo horn, also called as atok bagonjong.
Authenticity of this traditional settlement can be seen through its intangible cultural heritage practices. This settlement is still running their custom and cultural activities, one of which is known as cooperation group, a group whose members cooperate in making an important decision. The decisions are especially on social, political and economic aspects. Within the group, all men possess rights and duties proportionally. The elder (male) were belief to have more authority to make decision. The function of this group is mainly implemented for agricultural purpose.
Preservations of Minangkabau Tradition carried out by doing wirid adat, by using quotes of traditional teaching. Traditional education is the activity initiated by clan leader in order to transfer the knowledge of tradition to young generations at a certain time in rumah gadang.
Up to present, there is no matrilineal traditional village inscribed in World Heritage List. Yet, as a village, the traditional village of Nagari Sijunjung is an area of settlement with original tradition. However, there are two properties in terms of traditional architectural village; i.e. the LuangPrabang village in northern Laos and the old village of Shirakawa-Go and Gokayama at the Chubu Prefecture of Japan.
Both villages have no common similarities with the traditional village of Nagari Sijunjung, but there have some comparable elements, such as roof of houses in Luang Prabang, resembles to the atok bagonjong of Minangkabau traditional building. Besides, there is a historical similarity on the establishment of Luang Prabang with the Pagaruyung Kingdom in Minangkabau; both arose in the 14th century. The traditional houses of Luang Prabang are made of woods, alike the traditional houses of Minangkabau. The area of Luang Prabang is also surrounded by River Mekhong and Nam Khan, similar to traditional village of Nagari Sijunjung; surrounded by River Batang Sukam and Kulampi.
Another village that resembles the traditional village of Nagari Sijunjung is the Shirakawa-Go and Gokayama in Chubu Prefecture of Japan. The village in Japan possesses an environment and pattern of united social life. The layout of traditional houses is well-ordered in an area, apart from similar universal values; a settlement of traditional society that are in harmony with the environment and socio-economic life. The villages in Japan are situated in mountainous area, surrounded by forest and rice fields; traits that are also possessed by a village in Minangkabau, and to make the nature as teacher.