weblogUpdates.ping Taneak Jang, Rejang Land, Tanah Rejang http://rejang-lebong.blogspot.com Taneak Jang, Rejang land, Tanah Rejang: jujur (belaki, kule) dan tambi anak (ambil anak), Model kawin kontrak suku Gumai dahulu di Desa Gumai Talang

jujur (belaki, kule) dan tambi anak (ambil anak), Model kawin kontrak suku Gumai dahulu di Desa Gumai Talang


Continuity of Person

Marriage Contracts and Residential Rules

Until early this century, as in many regions of the South Sumatran highlands, villages in Gumai Talang did not accept strangers unless they were officially accepted as a subgroup or as in-laws. Two modes of marriage contracts, jujur (belaki, kule) and tambi anak (ambil anak), operated to regulate the residence of conjugal couples and contributed to maintaining exclusive village membership.


Jujur or belaki was a virilocal marriage that involved the payment of bride wealth. Belaki literally means ‘to have or follow a husband’ (laki). The bridegroom had to pay a sum of money to the father of the bride as bride wealth to formalise his marriage. In return for this payment, the tie between the wife and her native village was severed and she moved into the village of her husband. All the children she bore were then regarded as descendants of the husband’s side. In other words, children regarded themselves as descendants of the village founder on their father’s side, and regarded their natal village as asal or an ‘origin place’. The payment of bride wealth meant the purchase (kule) of the wife’s reproductive capacity. If she was widowed, she was not allowed to return home, and was expected to remarry a brother of her deceased husband; a practice known as nungkat.

Tambi anak is an uxorilocal marriage, which does not include the payment of bride wealth. In other regions of South Sumatra, such as among the Rejang and the Besemah, this mode of marriage was called ambil (ambel) anak or ‘to take a child’. Due to the absence of bride wealth payments, the status of the husband was low and he became a member of the wife’s family and had to sever ties with his native village. The children the wife bore were regarded as descendants of the wife’s side. Children therefore regarded themselves as descendants of the village founder on their mother’s side, and regarded their natal village as their origin place. Marriage between the same village members was said to have been by tambi anak marriage form. [18]

Marriage was not always between Gumai. Marrying a non-Gumai affected the status of children. In the past, all the people who were children of a conjugal union between two Gumai were differentiated from the children with one non-Gumai parent, who were known as jurai muda (‘young descendants’) and ranked lower than those born from Gumai parents. The descendants of non-Gumai couples who resided in a village were called anak tawan (‘children of the captured’) and ranked lowest in the village origin structure. [19] After three generations of continuous residence, descendants of anak tawan or jurai muda were given equal status to those born of Gumai parents. [20]

Through the practice of jujur and tambi anak marriages, Gumai villages remained groups with largely shared genealogical and affinal relations, with a single founding ancestor or multiple founding ancestors. The Dutch and British authorities, however, believed that these two modes of marriage deprived individuals of their freedom, were humiliating and degrading and equated them with slavery. [21] Supposedly when reformist Islamic movements reached the South Sumatran highlands, the penetration of Islamic marriage commonly known as nikah gradually replaced Gumai traditional marriage rules.

Islam taught that marriage should be a bond between a wife and a husband, and did not support the custom of nungkat. Along with this change, the selection of a spouse came to be regarded as a personal choice. Relations with the families of both parents should be maintained equally, and a couple should be free to choose a location for their new residence. According to the memories of elderly people in Gumai Talang, a meeting was held among the Gumai in 1944 to decide to abolish jujur and tambi anak marriages, and to replace them with tambi anak jurai sesame marriage. [22] As its name suggests, this new form of marriage is similar to tambi anak marriage as it results in uxorilocal residence and has no bride-wealth payment. A husband may live with his wife’s family but may leave the house of the wife’s father after the couple construct their own. The difference is that this marriage form ensures bilateral relations with parents-in-law after marriage and that descendants are recognised as belonging equally to both the husband’s and wife’s group of origin.

Marriage is now regarded as a personal arrangement between two people, and nungkat is not usually practised or expected to take place any more. [23] Table 1 shows that 67 percent of marriages that took place in villages in Gumai Talang during the period between 1994 and 1995 were uxorilocal. The three cases of neo-local marriage involved couples who moved from Gumai Talang villages to Jakarta or Palembang in relation to their work.

Table 2.1. Residential patterns of newly married couples in Gumai Talang between 1994 and 1995 (%)

Types of marriage

Virilocal marriage

Uxorilocal marriage

Neo-local marriage


Marriage cases





Per cent (%)





Source: Marriages which took place between the period of 1994 and 1995 surveyed during fieldwork.

With the prevalence of jurai sesame marriage, old terms related to the previous marriage systems have begun to be used with new meanings. Tambi anak and belaki now indicate post-marital residence patterns: the former refers to uxorilocal marriage and the latter to virilocal residential arrangements. [24] Marriage contracts determine the status of descendants and restrict village membership to those who can trace their origins to village founders through genealogical or affinal relations.

Petunggu Dusun

The Gumai mention the name of their natal village to indicate their place of origin. The natal village is called dusun laman. [25] The house in which one is born is regarded as an important place that connects the individual to a native village. Therefore, one member of the family is expected to inherit the family house to live in. The person who inherits the house is called petunggu dusun, which literally means ‘the one who waits in the village’. This person is expected to reside in the house and to have his/her own descendants maintain and represent genealogical connections to the founding ancestor of their village. [26] Gumai ritual specialists, Jurai Tue, Mimbar and Jurai Kebali’an, are all appointed as petunggu dusun among their family members and are asked to stay in their dusun laman.

Under the custom of the petunggu dusun, the village members consist largely of the households of petunggu dusun, who are regarded as the legitimate successors to their ancestors. In ritual language, [27] which is used to invoke ancestral spirits, the residents of a village who are mostly petunggu dusun are referred to as bilang gagang jurai bilang batang nyawe (‘each stem of a descendant, each trunk of a soul’). The petunggu dusun is the group who reproduces the next generation of the Gumai. In other words, each petunggu dusun is the trunk of life that derives from the ancestors as source and becomes an origin point from which the next generation of descendants is created. [28]

Leaving a house without an occupant in a natal village means losing connections with one’s natal village as the point of origin. This is explained as lupe asal or ‘forgetting origins’. Ancestral spirits are benevolent and will help their descendants to achieve their goals in life if they are remembered properly. Having derived from their ancestors, Gumai should not forget their ancestral origins. Forgetting one’s origins can enrage ancestral spirits who can cause a series of misfortunes. Not having a petunggu dusun could make a member of a household mentally ill.

Except for the child appointed as petunggu dusun, the other children are free to live elsewhere. More than 50 percent of the parents in Gumai Talang surveyed during my fieldwork encouraged their children to leave the village to make their living. Yet, these emigrants should not forget their native village and should pay regular visits to their dusun laman with their spouses and descendants. At the time of their visit, the petunggu dusun should accommodate the returning siblings at his/her house and offer a place to hold a gathering. [29]

[17] One of the early references regarding the practice of these two modes of marriage is Marsden (1986: 225-9, 235-7), who described the two practices among the Rejang.

[18] First-and second-cousin marriage was prohibited and still is strongly discouraged among the Gumai. This was because cousins share the same origin and relationships between them were considered incestuous. This made marriage among members of the same village rather difficult.

[19] According to Collins (1998: 311), anak tawan were normally women and children who were captured from enemy villages among the Besemah or became captives due to debt. They were often kept as sex slaves. The Besemah are reluctant to talk about who are the descendants of these women.

[20] All these classifications functioned until the middle of last century but no longer feature in the daily life of the Gumai.

[21] For a summary of the Dutch view on South Sumatran marriage modes, see Collins (1979: 125-51).

[22] Another name for this marriage is semendo, which became widely practised after the prohibition of jujur and ambil anak marriage (Collins 1979: 144-45).

[23] Marriage arranged by parents was known as rasan tue, in contrast with the marriage decision made by a couple based on their romantic feelings (rasan mude). In the past, rasan tue was a common practice among the Besemah elites (Collins 1998: 19). Since rasan tue is no longer popular, an expression, ade rasan, is often used among the Gumai today when parents announce the engagement of their children. It means that there is a mutual agreement between a young man and a young woman to marry.

[24] In daily conversations with Gumai men and women regarding the whereabouts of other family members, I often received these replies: ‘Kerawai aku udem belaki’ — My sister has taken a belaki marriage’ or ‘Jemetu, milu binie, ibarate sini tambi anak’—‘That person has followed his wife to live in his wife’s village’. This practice is called tambi anak here.

[25] Dusun laman is an equivalent of the Indonesian term kampung halaman, ‘birthplace’ or ‘natal village’. Laman means yard.

[26] The person who is chosen as petunggu dusun normally inherits gardens too so that he or she can make a living from agriculture.

[27] See Sakai (2000, Chapter Five), on the ritual language used by the Gumai.

[28] Botanic metaphors of life are used widely among Austronesian speakers as a discourse on origin and as kinship terms. For linguistic analyses of metaphorical botanic expressions, see Fox (1971, 1980a, 1980b, 1996b).

[29] For details of rituals related to individual origins, see Sakai (2000, Chapter Six).



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