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LAW or ADAT OF MANNA, by Jhon Crisp, Resident JULY 1807


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The History of Sumatera

Having procured likewise a copy of the regulations sanctioned by the chiefs of the Passummah country assembled at Manna, I do not hesitate to insert it, not only as varying in many circumstances from the preceding, but because it may eventually prove useful to record the document.


If a person dies having children these inherit his effects in equal portions, and become answerable for the debts of the deceased. If any of his brothers survive they may be permitted to share with their nephews, but rather as matter of courtesy than of right, and only when the effects of the deceased devolved to him from his father or grandfather. If he was a man of rank it is common for the son who succeeds him in title to have a larger share. This succession is not confined to the eldest born but depends much on private agreement in the family. If the deceased person leaves no kindred behind him the tribe to which he belonged shall inherit his effects, and be answerable for his debts.


When a debt becomes due and the debtor is unable to pay his creditors, or has no effects to deposit, he shall himself, or his wife, or his children, live with the creditor as a bond-slave or slaves until redeemed by the payment of the debt.

If a debt is contracted without any promise of interest none shall be demanded, although the debt be not paid until some time after it first became due. The rate of interest is settled at twenty per cent per annum; but in all suits relating to debts on interest, how long soever they may have been outstanding, the creditor shall not be entitled to more interest than may amount to a sum equal to the capital: if the debt is recent it shall be calculated as above. If any person lends to another a sum exceeding twenty-five dollars and sues for payment before the chiefs he shall be entitled only to one year's interest on the sum lent. If money is lent to the owner of a padi-plantation, on an agreement to pay interest in grain, and after the harvest is over the borrower omits to pay the stipulated quantity, the lender shall be entitled to receive at the rate of fifteen dollars for ten lent; and if the omission should be repeated another season the lender shall be entitled to receive double the principal. In all cases of debt contested the onus probandi lies with the demandant, who must make good his claim by creditable evidence, or in default thereof the respondent may by oath clear himself from the debt. On the other hand, if the respondent allows such a debt to have existed but asserts a previous payment, it rests with him to prove such payment by proper evidence, or in defect the demandant shall by oath establish his debt.



In order to be deemed a competent and unexceptionable evidence person must be of a different family and dusun from the person in whose behalf he gives evidence, of good character, and a free man: but if the dispute be between two inhabitants of the same dusun persons of such dusun are allowed to be complete evidence. In respect to the oath taken by the principals in a dispute the hukuman (or comprehensive quality of the oath) depends on the nature of the property in dispute: if it relates to the effects of the grandfather the hukuman must extend to the descendants from the grandfather; if it relates to the effects of the father it extends to the descendants of the father, etc. If any of the parties proposed to be included in the operation of the oath refuse to subject themselves to the oath the principal in the suit loses his cause.


If any person holding a pawn or pledge such as wearing-apparel, household effects, or krises, swords, or kujur (lances), shall pledge it for a larger sum than he advanced for it, he shall be answerable to the owner for the full value of it, on payment of the sum originally advanced. If any person holding as a pledge man, woman, or child shall pledge them to any other at an advanced sum, or without the knowledge of the owner, and by these means the person pledged should be sold as a slave, he shall make good to the owner the full value of such slave, and pay a fine of twenty-eight dollars. If any person whatever holding man, woman, or child as a pawn, either with janji lalu (term expired) or not, or with or without the consent of the original owner, shall sell such person as a slave without the knowledge of the Resident and Chiefs, he shall be fined twenty-eight dollars.



All persons who keep buffaloes shall register at the godong (factory­house) their tingas or mark; and, in case any dispute shall arise about a marked buffalo, no person shall be allowed to plead a mark that is not registered. If any wild (stray) buffalo or buffaloes, unmarked, shall be taken in a kandang (staked inclosure) they shall be adjudged the property of any who takes upon himself to swear to them; and, if it should happen that two or more persons insist upon swearing to the same buffaloes, they shall be divided among them equally. If no individual will swear to the property the buffaloes are to be considered as belonging to the kalippah or magistrate of the district where they were caught. The person who takes any buffaloes in his kandang shall be entitled to a gratuity of two dollars per head. If any buffaloes get into a pepper-garden, either by day or night, the owner of the garden shall have liberty to kill them, without being answerable to the owner of the buffaloes: yet, if it shall appear on examination that the garden was not properly fenced, and from this defect suffers damage, the owner shall be liable to such fine as the Resident and Chiefs shall judge it proper to impose.


A person convicted of stealing money, wearing-apparel, household effects, arms, or the like shall pay the owner double the value of the goods stolen and be fined twenty-eight dollars. A person convicted of stealing slaves shall pay to the owner at the rate of eighty dollars per head, which is estimated to be double the value, and fined twenty­eight dollars. A person convicted of stealing betel, fowls, or coconuts shall pay the owner double the value and be fined seven dollars, half of which fine is to be received by the owner. If buffaloes are stolen they shall be valued at twelve dollars per head: padi at four bakul (baskets) for the dollar. If the stolen goods be found in the possession of a person who is not able to account satisfactorily how he came by them he shall be deemed the guilty person. If a person attempting to seize a man in the act of thieving shall get hold of any part of his clothes which are known, or his kris or siwah, this shall be deemed a sufficient token of the theft. If two witnesses can be found who saw the stolen goods in possession of a third person such person shall be deemed guilty unless he can account satisfactorily how he became possessed of the goods. The oath taken by such witnesses shall either include the descendants of their father, or simply their own descendants, according to the discretion of the chiefs who sit as judges. If several people sleep in one house, and one of them leaves the house in the night without giving notice to any of the rest, and a robbery be committed in the house that night, the person so leaving the house shall be deemed guilty of the crime, provided the owner of the stolen goods be willing to subject himself to an oath on the occasion; and provided the other persons sleeping in the house shall clear themselves by oath from being concerned in the theft: but if it should happen that a person so convicted, being really innocent, should in after time discover the person actually guilty, he shall have liberty to bring his suit and recover. If several persons are sleeping in a house and a robbery is committed that night, although none leave the house the whole shall be obliged to make oath that they had no knowledge of, or concern in, the theft, or on refusal shall be deemed guilty. In all cases of theft where only a part of the stolen goods is found the owner must ascertain upon oath the whole amount of his loss.


A person convicted of murder shall pay to the relations of the deceased a bangun of eighty-eight dollars, one suku, and seventy-five cash; to the chiefs a fine of twenty-eight dollars; the bhasa lurah, which is a buffalo and one hundred bamboos of rice; and the palantan, which is fourteen dollars. If a son kills his father, or a father his son, or a man kills his brother, he shall pay a fine of twenty-eight dollars, and the bhasa lurah as above. If a man kills his wife the relations of the deceased shall receive half a bangun: if any other kills a man's wife the husband is entitled to the bangun, but shall pay out of it to the relations of the wife ten dollars. In wounds a distinction is made in the parts of the body. A wound in any part from the hips upward is esteemed more considerable than in the lower parts. If a person wounds another with sword, kris, kujur, or other weapon, and the wound is considerable, so as to maim him, he shall pay to the person wounded a half-bangun, and to the chiefs half of the fine for murder, with half of the bhasa lurah, etc. If the wound is trifling but fetches blood he shall pay the person wounded the tepong of fourteen dollars, and be fined fourteen dollars. If a person wounds another with a stick, bamboo, etc., he shall simply pay the tepong of fourteen dollars. If in any dispute between two people krises are drawn the person who first drew his kris shall be fined fourteen dollars. If any person having a dispute assembles together his friends with arms, he shall be fined twenty-eight dollars.



There are two modes of marriage used here: one by purchase, called jujur or kulu, the other by adoption, called ambel anak. First of jujur.


When a person is desirous of marrying he deposits a sum of money in the hands of the father of the virgin, which is called the pagatan. This sum is not esteemed part of the purchase, but as an equivalent for the dandanan (paraphernalia, or ornamental apparel) of the bride, and is not fixed but varies according to the circumstances and rank of the father. The amount of the jujur is fixed at seventy dollars, including the hurup niawa (price of life), forty dollars, a kris with gold about the head and silver about the sheath, valued at ten dollars, and the meniudakan billi or putus kulo (completion of purchase) at twenty. If a young man runs away with a gadis or virgin without the consent of the father he does not act contrary to the laws of the country; but if he refuses to pay the full jujur on demand he shall be fined twenty­eight dollars. If the father, having received the pagatan of one man, marries his daughter to another before he returns the money to the first, he shall be fined fourteen dollars, and the man who marries the daughter shall also be fined fourteen dollars. In case of divorce (which may take place at the will of either party) the dandanan brought by the wife is to be valued and to be deducted from the purchase-money. If a divorce originates from the man, and before the whole purchase­money is paid, the man shall receive back what he has advanced after deducting the dandanan as above, and fourteen dollars, called penusutan. If the divorce originates with the woman the whole purchase-money shall be returned, and the children, if any, remain with the father. If a divorce originates with the man, when the whole purchase-money has been paid, or kulo sudah putus, he shall not be entitled to receive back the purchase-money, but may recall his wife whenever it shall be agreeable to him. An exact estimation is made of the value of the woman's ornaments, and what are not restored with her must be made good by the husband. If there are children they are in this case to be divided, or if there be only one the husband is to allow the woman fifteen dollars, and to take the child. Secondly, of ambel anak.


When a man marries after the custom called ambel anak he pays no money to the father of the bride, but becomes one of his family, and is entirely upon the footing of a son, the father of his wife being thenceforward answerable for his debts, etc., in the same manner as for his own children. The married man becomes entirely separate from his original family, and gives up his right of inheritance. It is however in the power of the father of the wife to divorce from her his adopted son whenever he thinks proper, in which case the husband is not entitled to any of the children, nor to any effects other than simply the clothes on his back: but if the wife is willing still to live with him, and he is able to redeem her and the children by paying the father a hundred dollars, it is not at the option of the father to refuse accepting this sum; and in that case the marriage becomes a kulo or jujur, and is subject to the same rules. If any unmarried woman is convicted of incontinence, or a married woman of adultery, they shall pay to the chiefs a fine of forty dollars, or in defect thereof become slaves, and the man with whom the crime was committed shall pay a fine of thirty dollars, or in like manner become a slave; and the parties between them shall also be at the expense of a buffalo and a hundred bamboos of rice. This is called the gawe pati or panjingan. If an unmarried woman proves with child and refuses to name the man with whom she was guilty she shall pay the whole fine of seventy dollars, and furnish the buffalo, etc. If a woman after marriage brings forth a child before the due course of nature she shall be fined twenty-eight dollars. If a man keeps a young woman in his house for any length of time, and has a child by her without being regularly married, he shall be fined twenty-eight dollars, and furnish a buffalo and a hundred bamboos of rice. If a person detects the offenders in the act of adultery, and, attempting to seize the man, is obliged to kill him in self-defence, he shall not pay the bangun, nor be fined, but only pay the bhasa lurah, which is a buffalo and a hundred bamboos of rice. On the other hand, if the guilty person kills the one who attempts to seize him, he shall be deemed guilty of murder and pay the bangun and fine accordingly. If a man holding a woman as a pawn, or in the condition of mengiring shall commit fornication with her, he shall forfeit his claim to the debt, and the woman become free.


If the members of a family have suffered inconvenience from the ill conduct of any of their relations by having been rendered answerable for their debts, etc., it shall be in their power to clear themselves from all future responsibility on his account by paying to the chiefs the sum of thirty dollars, a buffalo, and a hundred bamboos of rice. This is termed buang surat. Should the person so cast out be afterwards murdered the relations have forfeited their right to the bangun, which devolves to the chiefs.

Dated at Manna, July 1807.

JOHN CRISP, Resident.


Rejang Land Pal

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