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Origin of the title of Pangeran in Rejang (Asal muasal gelar Pangeran di Tanah Rejang)


The father of Pangeran Mangko Raja (whose name is preserved from oblivion by the part he took in the expulsion of the English from Fort Marlborough in the year 1719) was the first who bore the title of pangeran of Sungey-lamo. He had before been simply Baginda Sabyam. Until about a hundred years ago the southern coast of Sumatra as far as Urei River was dependant on the king of Bantam, whose Jennang (lieutenant or deputy) came yearly to Silebar or Bencoolen, collected the pepper and filled up the vacancies by nominating, or rather confirming in their appointments, the proattins. Soon after that time, the English having established a settlement at Bencoolen, the jennang informed the chiefs that he should visit them no more, and, raising the two headmen of Sungey-lamo and Sungey-itam (the latter of whom is chief of the Lemba country in the neighbourhood of Bencoolen River; on which however the former possesses some villages, and is chief of the Rejang tribes), to the dignity of pangeran, gave into their hands the government of the country, and withdrew his master's claim. Such is the account given by the present possessors of the origin of their titles, which nearly corresponds with the recorded transactions of the period. It followed naturally that the chief thus invested should lay claim to the absolute authority of the king whom he represented, and on the other hand that the proattins should still consider him but as one of themselves, and pay him little more than nominal obedience. He had no power to enforce his plea, and they retain their privileges, taking no oath of allegiance, nor submitting to be bound by any positive engagement. They speak of him however with respect, and in any moderate requisition that does not affect their adat or customs they are ready enough to aid him (tolong, as they express it), but rather as matter of favour than acknowledged obligation.

The exemption from absolute subjection, which the dupatis contend for, they allow in turn to their ana-buahs, whom they govern by the influence of opinion only. The respect paid to one of these is little more than as to an elder of a family held in esteem, and this the old men of the dusun share with him, sitting by his side in judgment on the little differences that arise among themselves. If they cannot determine the cause, or the dispute be with one of a separate village, the neighbouring proattins of the same tribe meet for the purpose. From these litigations arise some small emoluments to the dupati, whose dignity in other respects is rather an expense than an advantage. In the erection of public works, such as the ballei or town hall, he contributes a larger share of materials. He receives and entertains all strangers, his dependants furnishing their quotas of provision on particular occasions; and their hospitality is such that food and lodging are never refused to those by whom they are required.


Though the rank of dupati is not strictly hereditary the son, when of age and capable, generally succeeds the father at his decease: if too young, the father's brother, or such one of the family as appears most qualified, assumes the post; not as a regent but in his own right; and the minor comes in perhaps at the next vacancy. If this settlement happens to displease any portion of the inhabitants they determine amongst themselves what chief they will follow, and remove to his village, or a few families, separating themselves from the rest, elect a chief, but without contesting the right of him whom they leave. The chiefs, when nominated, do not however assume the title of dupati until confirmed by the pangeran, or by the Company's Resident. On every river there is at least one superior proattin, termed a pambarab, who is chosen by the rest and has the right or duty of presiding at those suits and festivals in which two or more villages are concerned, with a larger allotment of the fines, and (like Homer's distinguished heroes) of the provisions also. If more tribes than one are settled on the same river each has usually its pambarab. Not only the rivers or districts but indeed each dusun is independent of, though not unconnected with, its neighbours, acting in concert with them by specific consent.

History of Sumatera page 175


Rejang Land Pal

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