|Rumah Gadang, Bukit Tinggi, Sumatera Barat, Indonesia|
Photo by Noraini Ismail (classmate, MGHS 1972/73)
There were many kingdoms in our history. One of them was the Pagaruyung Kingdom. Pagaruyung is also spelled as Pagarruyung, Pagar Ruyung, and was also known as Malayapura and Malayupura. At least one of the early Malay doctors' ancestors were traced to the Pagaruyung Kingdom - Dr Megat Khas bin Megat Omar. Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin bin Raja Shahbudin's ancestors were traced to the Siak Sultanate, a subgroup of the Pagaruyung Sultanate that was formed following the Padri war that occurred in West Sumatera at the height of the Dutch invasion there.
What is the Pagaruyung Kingdom?
Spread of Islam in South-east Asia was between 1200 and 1600.
Samudera Pasai Sultanate existed between 1267 and 1521.
Majapahit Kingdom existed between 1293 and 1500.
Malacca Sultanate existed between 1400 and 1511.
Cirebon Sultanate existed between 1445 and 1677.
Demak Sultanate existed between 1475 and 1548.
Aceh Sultanate existed between 1496 and 1903.
Pagaruyung Kingdom existed between 1500 and 1825.
The Pagaruyung Palace was where the Minangkabau kings once lived. The wooden palace was razed to the ground 3 times. The palace was re-built after each fire. At the time of the Dutch conquest of West Sumatra (after the third fire), there was hardly any remains of Pagaruyung Palace - just the palace grounds remained.
Why was the Pagaruyung Palace burned? Why did they burn down Pagaruyung Palace? Was it arson? Was is because of some family feud? Was it because of differences in ideologies of the rulers? What happened in Pagaruyung Palace history?
Minangkabau tradition upholds female domination and rights to family heirlooms and possessions, including land rights. The Minangkabau tradition is deemed as 'unIslamic' when it comes to inheritance. When the 'padri' of Islam (actually daie or preachers of Islam) came to Pagaruyung Palace from Aceh to spread Islam, not all the Pagaruyung royal household accepted Islam. After much rift on the differences in the lifestyles and traditions (Minangkabau vs. Islam), Pagaruyung Palace household was split. The ones who remained (victors) continued their Minangkabau tradition. The ones who sided Islam (losers) denounced their royal titles and left the palace; they moved south to the fishing ports and sailed to Malaya. They wandered to Perak and Pahang and had families in various parts of Malaya.
Stamford Raffles came into the picture when the Dutch ordered him to see the troubles at Pagaruyung. There was nothing on site since the palace was already gone and the royal household was split.
What is there today at Pagaruyung?
A triple-storey Pagaruyung Palace was constructed on the old site. However, lightning struck and it was razed to the ground. Another replica palace stands on the old palace site for tourists to view. The place is now Pagaruyung village in Tanjung Emas subdistrict, perched in the highlands of Tanah Datar regency, and the nearest town is Batusangkar in Indonesia.
The Pagaruyung Palace royal household in West Sumatra has ceased to exist. However, lineages of the fragmented royal families of the Pagaruyung Palace and the latter Siak Sultanate can be traced in Malaysia - in Perak, Pahang and Malacca. These link to the famous Nakhoda who first opened Penang island (before Captain Francis Light) and founded Masjid Batu Uban in Kampung Melayu Batu Uban in 1734, and his brother-in-law, Datuk Jenaton who defended Kedah against Siamese attack in the late 1800s, and was given a large track of land, on which stands the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) main campus in Penang, and the adjacent Minden Heights housing scheme.