Bukittingi, Indonesia           Click on thumbnails below for additional pictures.

“In your marriage, who is the boss?” our driver, Arman, asked in a playfully provocative tone, like he was setting up the punchline of a joke.

My partner and I looked at each other, laughed, and shrugged. Arman belonged to the Minangkabau, the society recognized among anthropologists as the world’s largest and most stable surviving matriarchy (though some prefer to call it a gylany, matrix, matrifocal or matricentric society, or something else to avoid conjuring images of mythical Amazons). Knowing this, I presumed his question was part of a routine entertainment for tourists.

“For us it is the woman who is boss,” he continued, predictably. “The woman has all the privileges; she owns everything. The men, we own nothing.” (READ MORE)

A Bukittinggi evening

Fast food dinner stalls

Nasi Goreng (more)

Tonga (more)

Mt. Merapi

Mt. Singgalang (more)

Remains of a Dutch fort (info)

Bukittingi rooftops

Jl Ahmad Yani north

Jam Gadang (Clock tower)

Statue of Imam Bonjol

Jl Ahmad Yani south

Bukittingi museum (1, 2)

Dadia Campua, local dish
(fruit, yoghurt, oats, jaggery)

Minankabau wedding set
and attire (more)

Sumatran elephant in zoo

      Pasar Atas, a Vegetable and Meat Market in Bukittinggi

Mounds of dried fish (1, 2)

Dozens of species

Dozens of stalls

Dried fish seller (more)

Freshly killed & live fish

Just point and buy (more)

Assorted seafood

Hello visitor

Women run lots of stalls

Brisk business

Quartered sting ray

Fish eyes staring at ya!

Red meat section

From a kill this morning

A choice cut?

Assorted innards

Cow boots against the wall

Severed leg

More cow boots in the sun

Assorted innards

Fowl for sale

Pick the fattest bird

Chicken's endgame

Slaughter and quarter

Ducks in a sack

Skinning fresh killed chicken

Produce seller

Heaps o' snacks

Vegetables (more)

Heaps o' chillies

Chilli paste

Grinding chillies

      A traditional Minangkabau Dance Performance

12 lively dances performed
to energetic music

At Medan Nan Balinduang,
a cultural center in town

Peragaan Penganten,
(with a wedding couple)

The bride

Tari Pasambahan

Tari Pasambahan

Tari Bagurau

Tari Bagurau

Aluang Bunian

Tari Indang

Tari Indang

Tari Piring


Day Trip 1: East and South of Bukittingi

House on a plantation

Avocado (tree)

Cinnamon bark (tree, sticks)


Cheekoo fruit

Cacao pods (tree)

Drying cacao beans

Holy cacao!

Cloves (tree)

Lemon grass

Soybeans (Squash)


Basil (Tulsi)

Turmeric (root)

Our guide (middle) with
one plantation's owners

Plantation owner

Yellow hibiscus


Coffee mill, water powered

Grinding coffee beans

Fish farms in the village

Woman working

A Minangkabau home

Padang-style lunch for two!

A family at lunch

Sanskrit in pallava script

600-700 years old (1, 2), (from
kingdom of Adityawarman)

Meeting Room (more)

Giggly girls

Queen's house (front, back)

Ceremonial drum

King's palace (being restored
after 2007 lightening fire)

Rau-Rau Village

Minangkabau design

Typical rooftops
(former rice store)


Inside a home (exterior)

Bollywood fans here!

Room adjacent to kitchen

Kitchen (doorway to it)

Another house

Another interior

Kitchen fire on sheet of iron

Modern Minangkabau house

Average village house

The inheritance of women

Another old house (1, 2)

Women in the village (more)

School teacher (more)

Pausing for a smile

Two boys


Balimbing village house

Another house

Village scene

Rice paddies near Balimbing





Lake Singkarak (more)

Kids having a *great* time

Soursop fruit

A small river

Rice paddies (1, 2)

Water intensive crop

Terrace farming

Handicrafts souviner shop
in Pandai Sikek village

India-inspired dresses & designs

Young weaver

Wood carving

A typical big mosque


Day Trip 2: West of Bukittingi

Koto Gadang village

Koto Gadang street

Meeting House (more)

Close-up of wood carving

Fruit bats (1, 2)

Filigree silverwork

Landscape w/ village (more)

Roasting peanuts

Lake Maninjau (more)

Volcanic lake (1, 2)

Fishermen (1, 2)

Caldera formed 52K years ago

Minangkabau house
overlooking lake (1, 2)

Mid-afternoon light

Rice fields by the lake

Rice and coconuts

In a volcano's caldera

Rice - almost ready

Long-tailed monkey

Weaver-bird nest

      Making (unrefined) sugar from sugarcane

Fresh cut sugarcane

Big juicer

Boiling in large vats

Sugarcane husk is fuel

Thickening juice

Off the fire

Poured into cups

Unrefined sugar (jaggery)!



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