Siti Syahidah Husaini remembers wearing a bright headdress to a Merdeka Day celebration at school. Made from gold and silver songket cloth, the headdress turned some heads that day.
“I felt so special wearing the most recognisable Minangkabau clothing item – the headdress. At the same time, I was really happy I got to showcase my Minangkabau heritage, ” said Siti Syahidah, 32.
Known as Tengkuluk Tanduak or Tikuluak Tanduak, the headdress is an important symbol of the Minangkabau culture in Negri Sembilan. The headdress is shaped like a double-pointed horn, decorated with either gold ornaments or gilt brass.
The full headdress of a Minangkabau woman, usually worn in Adat Perpatih ceremonies, tells a great deal of one’s background and social status. The hat made from embroidered balapak cloth will reveal whether or not the woman is a Bundo Kanduang (or Ibu Soko), as well as which suku (clan) and region she is from.
Ibu Soko are the well-respected senior female leaders of a clan, according to Adat Perpatih traditions. Negri Sembilan is the only state in Malaysia that practises Adat Perpatih, a combination of practices and rules that govern various areas of social life that originated from the Minangkabau Highlands in Sumatra, Indonesia.
Matrilineal customs are observed and women are held in high regard. One of the most unique – and visible – aspects of the Negri Sembilan Minangkabau culture is the colourful garments.
The clothes worn by Minang men and women to special ceremonies are often woven with motifs that can be translated into a series of proverbs and epigrams.