Sejarah Sumatra (Marsden)/Bab 3

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I shall now attempt a description of the villages and buildings of the Sumatrans, and proceed to their domestic habits of economy, and those simple arts on which the procuring of their food and other necessaries depends. These are not among the least interesting objects of philosophical speculation. In proportion as the arts in use with any people are connected with the primary demands of nature, they carry the greater likelihood of originality, because those demands must have been administered to from a period coeval with the existence of the people themselves. Or if complete originality be regarded as a visionary idea, engendered from ignorance and the obscurity of remote events, such arts must be allowed to have the fairest claim to antiquity at least. Arts of accommodation, and more especially of luxury, are commonly the effect of imitation, and suggested by the improvements of other nations which have made greater advances towards civilisation. These afford less striking and characteristic features in delineating the picture of mankind, and, though they may add to the beauty, diminish from the genuineness of the piece. We must not look for unequivocal generic marks, where the breed, in order to mend it, has been crossed by a foreign mixture. All the arts of primary necessity are comprehended within two distinctions: those which protect us from the inclemency of the weather and other outward accidents; and those which are employed in securing the means of subsistence. Both are immediately essential to the continuance of life, and man is involuntarily and immediately prompted to exercise them by the urgent calls of nature, even in the merest possible state of savage and uncultivated existence. In climates like that of Sumatra this impulse extends not far. The human machine is kept going with small effort in so favourable a medium. The spring of importunate necessity there soon loses its force, and consequently the wheels of invention that depend upon it fail to perform more than a few simple revolutions. In regions less mild this original motive to industry and ingenuity carries men to greater lengths in the application of arts to the occasions of life; and these of course in an equal space of time attain to greater perfection than among the inhabitants of the tropical latitudes, who find their immediate wants supplied with facility, and prefer the negative pleasure of inaction to the enjoyment of any conveniences that are to be purchased with exertion and labour. This consideration may perhaps tend to reconcile the high antiquity universally allowed to Asiatic nations, with the limited progress of arts and sciences among them; in which they are manifestly surpassed by people who compared with them are but of very recent date.

The Sumatrans however in the construction of their habitations have stepped many degrees beyond those rude contrivances which writers describe the inhabitants of some other Indian countries to have been contented with adopting in order to screen themselves from the immediate influence of surrounding elements. Their houses are not only permanent but convenient, and are built in the vicinity of each other that they may enjoy the advantages of mutual assistance and protection resulting from a state of society.*

(*Footnote. In several of the small islands near Sumatra (including the Nicobars), whose inhabitants in general are in a very low state of civilisation, the houses are built circularly. Vid Asiatic Researches volume 4 page 129 plate.)


Dusun-dusun atau desa-desa (untuk sejumlah kecil penduduk yang berkumpul satu sama lain yang tak dapat disebutkan sebagai kota) biasanya berada di tepi sungai atau danau untuk mendi dan membawakan barang-barang. Kesulitan aksen biasanya dibuat untuk alasan keamanan. Akses ke mereka dilakukan lewat jalan kaki, sempit dan liar, dimana terdapat hunian lebih dari dua; satu untuk desa dan lainnya untuk air; yang untuk air di banyak tempat ditempatkan untuk memotong perjalanan di tebing atau batu. Dusun-dusun, yang dikelilingi dengan pohon-pohon buah, beberapa memiliki batang yang tinggi, seperti durian, kelapa dan kacang besar, dan daerah tetangga untuk ruang yang kecil yang dalam beberapa tingkat bebas dari pohon untuk penanaman padi dan lada, desa-desa tersebut nampak dari kejauhan seperti gumpalan-gumpalan, tanpa penampilan kota atau tempat hunian apapun. Barisan rumah umumnya berbentuk persegi, dengan perlintasan atau baris di bagian dalam antar bangunan, dimana di desa-desa paling menonjol dihuni penduduk kelas bawah, dan dimana juga rumah-rumah padi atau penggilingan didirikan. Di tengan persegi didirikan balei atau balai kota, sebuah ruang berukuran sekitar lima puluh sampai seratus kaki dan lebar dua puluh atau tiga puluh kaki, tanpa pembagian, dan terbuka di setiap sisi, kecuali pada saat acara tertentu, tempat tersebut digantung dengan tikar atau rajutan; namun terlindung dalam arah lateral dengan atap yang menjorok ke dalam.

W. Bell delt. J.G. Stadler sculpt.
Diterbitkan oleh W. Marsden, 1810.

W. Bell delt. J.G. Stadler sculpt.)


In their buildings neither stone, brick, nor clay, are ever made use of, which is the case in most countries where timber abounds, and where the warmth of the climate renders the free admission of air a matter rather to be desired than guarded against: but in Sumatra the frequency of earthquakes is alone sufficient to have prevented the natives from adopting a substantial mode of building. The frames of the houses are of wood, the underplate resting on pillars of about six or eight feet in height, which have a sort of capital but no base, and are wider at top than at bottom. The people appear to have no idea of architecture as a science, though much ingenuity is often shown in the manner of working up their materials, and they have, the Malays at least, technical terms corresponding to all those employed by our house carpenters. Their conception of proportions is extremely rude, often leaving those parts of a frame which have the greatest bearing with the weakest support, and lavishing strength upon inadequate pressure. For the floorings they lay whole bamboos (a well-known species of large cane) of four or five inches diameter, close to each other, and fasten them at the ends to the timbers. Across these are laid laths of split bamboo, about an inch wide and of the length of the room, which are tied down with filaments of the rattan; and over these are usually spread mats of different kinds. This sort of flooring has an elasticity alarming to strangers when they first tread on it. The sides of the houses are generally closed in with palupo, which is the bamboo opened and rendered flat by notching or splitting the circular joints on the outside, chipping away the corresponding divisions within, and laying it to dry in the sun, pressed down with weights. This is sometimes nailed onto the upright timbers or bamboos, but in the country parts it is more commonly interwoven, or matted, in breadths of six inches, and a piece, or sheet, formed at once of the size required. In some places they use for the same purpose the kulitkayu, or coolicoy, as it is pronounced by the Europeans, who employ it on board ship as dunnage in pepper and other cargoes. This is a bark procured from some particular trees, of which the bunut and ibu are the most common. When they prepare to take it the outer rind is first torn or cut away; the inner, which affords the material, is then marked out with a prang, pateel, or other tool, to the size required, which is usually three cubits by one; it is afterwards beaten for some time with a heavy stick to loosen it from the stem, and being peeled off is laid in the sun to dry, care being taken to prevent its warping. The thicker or thinner sorts of the same species of kulitkayu owe their difference to their being taken nearer to or farther from the root. That which is used in building has nearly the texture and hardness of wood. The pliable and delicate bark of which clothing is made is procured from a tree called kalawi, a bastard species of the bread-fruit.

The most general mode of covering houses is with the atap, which is the leaf of a species of palm called nipah. These, previous to their being laid on, are formed into sheets of about five feet long and as deep as the length of the leaf will admit, which is doubled at one end over a slip or lath of bamboo; they are then disposed on the roof so as that one sheet shall lap over the other, and are tied to the bamboos which serve for rafters. There are various other and more durable kinds of covering used. The kulitkayu, before described, is sometimes employed for this purpose: the galumpei--this is a thatch of narrow split bamboos, six feet in length, placed in regular layers, each reaching within two feet of the extremity of that beneath it, by which a treble covering is formed: iju--this is a vegetable production so nearly resembling horse-hair as scarcely to be distinguished from it. It envelopes the stem of that species of palm called anau, from which the best toddy or palm wine is procured, and is employed by the natives for a great variety of purposes. It is bound on as a thatch in the manner we do straw, and not unfrequently over the galumpei; in which case the roof is so durable as never to require renewal, the iju being of all vegetable substances the least prone to decay, and for this reason it is a common practice to wrap a quantity of it round the ends of timbers or posts which are to be fixed in the ground. I saw a house about twenty miles up Manna River, belonging to Dupati Bandar Agung, the roof of which was of fifty years standing. The larger houses have three pitches in the roof; the middle one, under which the door is placed, being much lower than the other two. In smaller houses there are but two pitches, which are always of unequal height, and the entrance is in the smaller, which covers a kind of hall or cooking room.

There is another kind of house, erected mostly for a temporary purpose, the roof of which is flat and is covered in a very uncommon, simple, and ingenious manner. Large, straight bamboos are cut of a length sufficient to lie across the house, and, being split exactly in two and the joints knocked out, a first layer of them is disposed in close order, with the inner or hollow sides up; after which a second layer, with the outer or convex sides up, is placed upon the others in such manner that each of the convex falls into the two contiguous concave pieces, covering their edges; the latter serving as gutters to carry off the water that falls upon the upper or convex layer.*

(*Footnote. I find that the original inhabitants of the Philippine Islands covered their buildings in the same manner.)

The mode of ascent to the houses is by a piece of timber or stout bamboo, cut in notches, which latter an European cannot avail himself of, especially as the precaution is seldom taken of binding them fast. These are the wonderful light scaling-ladders which the old Portuguese writers described to have been used by the people of Achin in their wars with their nation. It is probable that the apprehension of danger from the wild beasts caused them to adopt and continue this rude expedient, in preference to more regular and commodious steps. The detached buildings in the country, near to their plantations, called talangs, they raise to the height of ten or twelve feet from the ground, and make a practice of taking up their ladder at night to secure themselves from the destructive ravages of the tigers. I have been assured, but do not pledge myself for the truth of the story, that an elephant, attempting to pass under one of these houses, which stand on four or six posts, stuck by the way, but, disdaining to retreat, carried it, with the family it contained, on his back to a considerable distance.

In the buildings of the dusuns, particularly where the most respectable families reside, the woodwork in front is carved in the style of bas-relief, in a variety of uncouth ornaments and grotesque figures, not much unlike the Egyptian hieroglyphics, but certainly without any mystic or historical allusion.


The furniture of their houses, corresponding with their manner of living, is very simple, and consists of but few articles. Their bed is a mat, usually of fine texture, and manufactured for the purpose, with a number of pillows, worked at the ends and adorned with a shining substance that resembles foil. A sort of canopy or valance, formed of various coloured cloths, hangs overhead. Instead of tables they have what resemble large wooden salvers, with feet called dulang, round each of which three or four persons dispose themselves; and on these are laid the talams or brass waiters which hold the cups that contain their curry, and plantain leaves or matted vessels filled with rice. Their mode of sitting is not cross-legged, as the inhabitants of Turkey and our tailors use, but either on the haunches or on the left side, supported by the left hand with the legs tucked in on the right side; leaving that hand at liberty which they always, from motives of delicacy, scrupulously eat with; the left being reserved for less cleanly offices. Neither knives, spoons, nor any substitutes for them are employed; they take up the rice and other victuals between the thumb and fingers, and dexterously throw it into the mouth by the action of the thumb, dipping frequently their hands in water as they eat.


They have a little coarse chinaware, imported by the eastern praws, which is held a matter of luxury. In cooking they employ a kind of iron vessel well-known in India by the name of quallie or tauch, resembling in shape the pans used in some of our manufactures, having the rim wide and bottom narrow. These are likewise brought from the eastward. The priu and balanga, species of earthen pipkins, are in more common use, being made in small quantities in different parts of the island, particularly in Lampong, where they give them a sort of glazing; but the greater number of them are imported from Bantam. The original Sumatran vessel for boiling rice, and which is still much used for that purpose, is the bamboo, that material of general utility with which bountiful nature has supplied an indolent people. By the time the rice is dressed the utensil is nearly destroyed by the fire, but resists the flame so long as there is moisture within.


Api diinginkan di kalangan orang-orang tersebut namun jarang, dan hanya ketika mereka memasak makanan mereka, tak terlalu banyak perhatian yang dilakukan di bangunan mereka untuk menyediakan penghangat untuknya. Rumah mereka tak memiliki cerobong, dan tempat api mereka tak lebih dari kumpulan bata atau batu, yang dibuang pada suatu waktu dan seringkali di tempat sebelah pintu. Bahan bakar yang dibuat hanya dari kayu, batubara yang dihasilkan di pulau tersebut tak pernah dipakai oleh para penduduk untuk keperluan tersebut. Batu api dan baha untuk menyalakan api umum di daerah tersebut, namun praktek tersebut hanya dilakukan oleh sedikit orang, karena jenis batu tersebut tak berasal dari tanah tersebut. Barang tersebut umumnya merupakan bagian dari kiriman perjalanan mereka, dan khususnya dengan orang-orang yang disebut risau (orang-orang yang beralih menjadi bajak laut), yang mereka sendiri seringkali menempatkan hunian mereka di hutan atau tempat sepi. Namun, mereka juga seringkali membuat api dari gesekan dua tongkat.


They choose a piece of dry, porous wood, and cutting smooth a spot of it lay it in a horizontal direction. They then apply a smaller piece, of a harder substance, with a blunt point, in a perpendicular position, and turn it quickly round, between the two hands, as chocolate is milled, pressing it downwards at the same time. A hole is soon formed by this motion of the smaller stick; but it has not penetrated far before the larger one takes fire. I have also seen the same effect produced more simply by rubbing one bit of bamboo with a sharp edge across another.*

(*Footnote. This mode of kindling fire is not peculiar to Sumatra: we read of the same practice in Africa and even in Kamtschatka. It is surprising, but confirmed by abundant authority, that many nations of the earth have at certain periods, been ignorant of the use of fire. To our immediate apprehension human existence would seem in such circumstances impossible. Every art, every convenience, every necessary of life, is now in the most intimate manner connected with it: and yet the Chinese, the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, and Greeks acknowledged traditions concerning its first discovery in their respective countries. But in fact if we can once suppose a man, or society of men, unacquainted with the being and uses of this element, I see no difficulty in conceiving the possibility of their supporting life without it; I mean in the tropical climates; and of centuries passing before they should arrive at the important discovery. It is true that lightning and its effects, volcanoes, the firing of dry substances by fortuitous attrition, or of moist, by fermentation, might give them an idea of its violent and destructive properties; but far from being thence induced to appropriate and apply it they would, on the contrary, dread and avoid it, even in its less formidable appearances. They might be led to worship it as their deity, but not to cherish it as their domestic. There is some reason to conclude that the man who first reduced it to subjection and rendered it subservient to the purposes of life procured it from the collision of two flints; but the sparks thus produced, whether by accident or design, might be observed innumerable times without its suggesting a beneficial application. In countries where those did not present themselves the discovery had, most probably, its origin in the rubbing together of dry sticks, and in this operation, the agent and subject coexisting, flame, with its properties and uses, became more immediately apparent. Still, as no previous idea was conceived of this latent principle, and consequently no search made, no endeavours exerted, to bring it to light, I see not the impossibility a priori of its remaining almost as long concealed from mankind as the properties of the loadstone or the qualities of gunpowder.)

Water is conveyed from the spring in bamboos, which for this purpose are cut, either to the length of five or six feet and carried over the shoulder, or into a number of single joints that are put together in a basket. It is drunk out of the fruit called labu here, resembling the calabash of the West Indies, a hole being made in the side of the neck and another at top for vent. In drinking they generally hold the vessel at a distance above their mouths and catch the stream as it falls; the liquid descending to the stomach without the action of swallowing. Baskets (bronong, bakul) are a considerable part of the furniture of a man's house, and the number of these seen hanging up are tokens of the owner's substance; for in them his harvests of rice or pepper are gathered and brought home; no carts being employed in the interior parts of the island which I am now describing. They are made of slips of bamboo connected by means of split rattans; and are carried chiefly by the women, on the back, supported by a string or band across the forehead.


meskipun orang-orang Sumatra hidup dengan menyantap sejumlah besar sayuran, mereka tak dibatasi oleh wacana dari pantangan lainnya, dan pada acara-acara tertentu, daging kerbau, kambing dan unggas disajikan. Hidangan mereka nyaris selalu disajikan dengan gaya hiasan yang mereka beri nama karu (dari kata Hindostanik), dan yang kini dikenal secara luas di Eropa. Hidangan tersebut disebut gulei dalam bahasa Melayu, dan berbahan jenis-jenis bahan pangan, namun umumnya adalah daging atau unggas, dengan berbagai jenis bahan tambahan dan sayuran, direbus dengan bahan tertentu, yang oleh kami sebut bubuk kari, ketika dicampur dan diaduk bersama. Bahan-bahan tersebut meliputi cabai rawit atau lada, kunyit, sarei atau serai, kapulaga, bawang putih, dan olahan kelapa yang dicampur dengan susu yang mirip dengan kacang tanah, yang hanya terbuat dari cairan. Ini berbeda dari kari Madras dan Bengal, yang memiliki ragam rempah-rempah yang lebih banyak, dan meliputi kelapa. Olahan tersebut tak sedikit mengingatkan pada lada umum, bahan utama yang menjadi komoditas utama dan pokok yang diproduksi di wilayah tersebut, tak pernah dicampur pada makanan oleh penduduk asli. Mereka menganggapnya pemanas darah, dan menyebut dampak berlawanan dengan cabai rawit; yang dapat aku katakan, pengalamanku sendiri menjadi benar. Sejumlah besar ragam kari biasanya disajikan bersamaan, dalam wadah kecil, yang masing-masing diberi rasa dengan cara berbeda; dan ini diletakkan pada seluruh meja mewah. Ketika sejumlah besar atau beragam daging disajikan, bahan utama dari makanan mereka adalah nasi, yang disantap dalam jumlah besar pada setiap hidangan, dan sangat sering tanpa tambahan lainnya selain garam dan lada. Olahan tersebut diolah dengan cara direbus seperti halnya yang dilakukan di India; kesempurnaannya, disamping kebersihan dan keputihannya, ketika dihias dan dilembutkan dengan hati, pada saat yang sama secara keseluruhan dan terpisah, sehingga tidak ada biji yang dicampur bersamaan. Cara efektif ini dilakuakn dengan menempatkannya dalam wadah berbahan tanah atau lainnyayang direbus dengan air yang layak untuk menutupinya, dididihkan dengan api pelan, air dikeluarkan pada tingkat datar atau sendok agar biji mengering, dan menghilangkannya ketika pembakaran. Pada acara-acara mereka, para tamu dihidangkan dengan nasi yang juga disajikan dalam beragam gaya, dengan menggorengkannya menjadi kue atau merebusnya dan dicampur dengan biji kelapa dan minyak murni, dalam potongan bambu kecil. Olahan tersebut disebut lemmang. Sebelum disajikan, mereka memotong bagian luar bambu dan bagian dalam yang lembut disantap oleh orang yang menyantapnya.


They dress their meat immediately after killing it, while it is still warm, which is conformable with the practice of the ancients as recorded in Homer and elsewhere, and in this state it is said to eat tenderer than when kept for a day: longer the climate will not admit of, unless when it is preserved in that mode called dinding. This is the flesh of the buffalo cut into small thin steaks and exposed to the heat of the sun in fair weather, generally on the thatch of their houses, till it is become so dry and hard as to resist putrefaction without any assistance from salt. Fish is preserved in the same manner, and cargoes of both are sent from parts of the coast where they are in plenty to those where provisions are in more demand. It is seemingly strange that heat, which in a certain degree promotes putrefaction, should when violently increased operate to prevent it; but it must be considered that moisture also is requisite to the former effect, and this is absorbed in thin substances by the sun's rays before it can contribute to the production of maggots.

Blachang, a preservation, if it may be so termed, of an opposite kind, is esteemed a great delicacy among the Malays, and is by them exported to the west of India. The country Sumatrans seldom procure it. It is a species of caviar, and is extremely offensive and disgusting to persons who are not accustomed to it, particularly the black kind, which is the most common. The best sort, or the red blachang, is made of the spawn of shrimps, or of the shrimps themselves, which they take about the mouths of rivers. They are, after boiling, exposed to the sun to dry, then pounded in a mortar with salt, moistened with a little water and formed into cakes, which is all the process. The black sort, used by the lower class, is made of small fish, prepared in the same manner. On some parts of the east coast of the island they salt the roes of a large fish of the shad kind, and preserve them perfectly dry and well flavoured. These are called trobo.

When the natives kill a buffalo, which is always done at their public meetings, they do not cut it up into joints as we do an ox, but into small pieces of flesh, or steaks, which they call bantei. The hide of the buffalo is sometimes scalded, scraped, and hung up to dry in their houses where it shrivels and becomes perfectly hard. When wanted for use a piece is chopped off and, being stewed down for a great number of hours in a small quantity of water, forms a rich jelly which, properly seasoned, is esteemed a very delicate dish.

The sago (sagu), though common on Sumatra and used occasionally by the natives, is not an article of food of such general use among them as with the inhabitants of many other eastern islands, where it is employed as a substitute for rice. Millet (randa jawa) is also cultivated for food, but not in any considerable quantity.

When these several articles of subsistence fail the Sumatran has recourse to those wild roots, herbs, and leaves of trees which the woods abundantly afford in every season without culture, and which the habitual simplicity of his diet teaches him to consider as no very extraordinary circumstance of hardship. Hence it is that famines in this island or, more properly speaking, failures of crops of grain, are never attended with those dreadful consequences which more improved countries and more provident nations experience.