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The Mandailings in Peninsular Malaysia

The Padri War (1816-1833) and subsequent Dutch control over western Sumatra were the main causes of the Mandailing migration to 19th century Peninsula Malaysia. The Mandailings were actively involved in the Padri War as commanders and soldiers. The Mandailing homelands were directly affected by the ravages of war.

Spears belonging to the Lubis Clan from Tamiang,
decorated with fallen enemies hair.

The Padri, commonly associated with Islamic revivalism in Minangkabau during the early decades of the 19th century, have been described as the "Sumatrans counterpart of the Wahabis" of the Hijaz (Saudi Arabia today). The origin of the term Padri, is ascribed to the Portuguese word, "padre", due to the long flowing robes worn. The Padri were also called "Kaum Putih" (White Party) as they wore white robes while their pro-adat enemy were called "Kaum Hitam" (Black Party), refering to the dark indigo colour of their costumes.

Two famous Padri leaders were Tuanku Rao and Tuanku Tambusai. Tuanku Rao hailed from Huta Godang or Tano Godang in Mandailing Julu (Upper Mandailing). According to Tuanku Imam Bonjol's diary, his mother was a Rao woman. Before he was appointed Imam Besar of Rao with the title Tuanku Rao, he was known as Pakih Muhammad. The term "Rao", the Minang equivalent of Rawa, refers to the southern frontier (rantau) of the Minangkabau.

Tuanku Tambusai, nicknamed Si Harimau Paderi (The Paderi Tiger), took his grandfather's name of Hamonangan Harahap upon his customary installation. Tuanku Tambusai was the overlord of 'Tambuse', another name for the village of Dalu-Dalu, a stronghold of the Paderi on the Batang Lubu in Rokan, East Sumatra. Tuanku Tambusai had a fort called "Benteng Tujuh Lapis (The Seven Layered Fort) in Dalu-Dalu, described by Dutch accounts as one of the most well fortified native forts. Tuanku Tambusai's fort in Dalu-Dalu fell in December 1838 to a combined Dutch onslaught consisting of Mandailing, Bugis and Madura troops.

Some people believe Tuanku Tambusai escaped and fled to Melaka and died there. F.M. Schnitger, author of Forgotten Kingdoms in Sumatra (first published in 1939), discounted the possibility of Tuanku Tambusai's flight and subsequent demise in Melaka. "It was said that at the last assault, he had fled in a proa (perahu). They never heard of him again, so that it is supposed he died during his escape. Others maintain that he fled to Melaka and died there. There is no reason for accepting this as the truth." (Melaka at the time referred to the peninsular Malaya).

However, it seems that Tuanku Tambusai relocated to Sungai Ujong (Seremban today). The descendants of Tuanku Tambusai, who now live in Seremban, still retain his regalia and belongings which include a Qur'an, sword and rompi (vest) with Arabic inscriptions.

Tuanku Tambusai was also known by other nicknames such as Ompu Bangun, Ompu Cangangya, Ompu Sidoguran, Ompu Baku and others. His Arabic name was Pakih Saleh and upon his return from Makkah where he was exposed to the Wahabbi teachings, he became known as Hadji Muhammad Saleh. He was credited to have spread the teachings of Islam in Padang Lawas, Padang Bolak, Angkola Sipirok and Mandailing itself. Tuanku Tambusai was declared a "Pahlawan Nasional" (National Hero) by an Indonesian decree in August 1995.

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update september 2006