Minangjabau Maiden

Rectangular songket textiles woven in geometric patterns with supplementary threads of silver or gold are the finest supplementary weft textiles in Indonesia. On festive occasions Minangkabau women are lavishly adorned with jewelry and traditional fabrics such as this songket worn over the shoulder as a selindang; another songket is folded into a traditional tanduk headdress that resembles the horns of a water buffalo.

During the Majapahit dynasty the Javanese conquered new territory in Sumatra. When the Javanese army reached West Sumatra the people suggested a contest between a local kerbau, or buffalo, and one representing the Javanese army, to avoid human bloodshed. Certain that the army's magnificent kerbau would win any fight, the Javanese agreed to stake the sovereignty of the region on this contest. However, the kerbau chosen by the Sumatrans was a half-starved calf with a spike fixed in its mouth. As it tried to suckle the adult kerbau the mature animal fled in pain. This clever ploy is the origin of the name Minangkabau, which signifies 'victorious buffalo.'

Payakumbuh, West Sumatra

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