17 Culture in South Sumatra – Art – Characteristics

South Sumatra is one of the provinces in Indonesia located in the southern part of the island of Sumatra with the capital of Palembang. Like most other provincial cultures on the island of Sumatra, the culture of the province of South Sumatra is largely influenced by Malay culture. In addition, there are some cultures that are influenced by Islam, and some are influenced by the culture of the Sriwijaya kingdom. South Sumatra’s cultural wealth includes traditional houses, traditional clothing, various types of dances, as well as typical food from the area. Below will be explained some of them.

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1. Custom Houses

In South Sumatra, as is the case with other regions in Indonesia, has architectural artworks namely Limas House and still can be found in a residential house in Palembang area. Limas House in Palembang has been recognized as Traditional House of South Sumatra.

Meanwhile. in general, the architecture of Limas Palembang House typically has on the roof a pyramid with its top cut off. The uniqueness of Limas house can also be found on its tiered shape and the walls are wooden shaped board and the Limas Palembang’s house is often built on poles to prevent flooding.

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2. Regional Song

The song of South Sumatera or Palembang song has very interesting song lyrics. The songs are much influenced by Malay culture so that many lyrics are rhymes that are fun to sing. Generally, the song of South Sumatra region contains advice, romance, and about the typical food that is Pempek. Below is some the most famous song title that South Sumatra has:

  • Pempek Lenzer
  • Kabile Bile
  • Dirut
  • Dek Sangke
  • Kapal Selam
  • Cup Mak Ilang
  • Petang – Petang
  • Palembang Bari
  • Palembang Diwaktu Malam
  • Gending Sriwjaya
  • Ribu-Ribu

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3. Art Dance

In South Sumatra, there are several dances that were performed on different occasions with different styling and will be discussed below.

a. Gending Sriwijaya Art Dance
This dance is performed exclusively to greet the honorary guests such as the heads of state, ambassadors, and other great guests. Gending Sriwijaya Dance is almost the same as the Dance of the Tanggai, only that the difference lies in the use of dancers number and clothing accessory that were in use in dancing.

On the other hand, this is a dance that comes from the culture of the kingdom of Sriwijaya in the past and regarded as a symbol of the triumph, power, and superiority of the Sumatran people. The dance is usually played by 9 dancers and accompanied by a typical Malay song

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b. Tanggai Art Dance
This Dance is performed at the time of welcoming the official guests or in the wedding. Generally, this dance is performed by five people wearing typical local clothes such as Songket clothes, Dodot, necklace and other accessories.

Then, this dance is a blend of motion on the gracefulness of distinctive regional dress with the elegant dancers. The dance depicts the friendly and respectful civility of the Palembang community appreciative towards the guest who visits the area

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c. Weaving Songket Dance
This dance describes the activities of young women in particular and housewives in Palembang in general who use their spare time to weave with clothing. Inspired by the weaving tradition in their culture then it was born a dance entitled Dance Songket Weaving.

On the other hand, this dance tells about the perseverance and excitement of Palembang girls in Songket weaving activities. In general, this is a dance done by five dancers but the number of dancers can be increased and reduced according to the size of the stage that were used.

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d. Rodat Cempako Dance
Rodat Cempako dance is a dance area of South Sumatra and is one of the dance art that grew and developed among the Muslims in Palembang so this folk dance has Islamic theme in it.

Furthermore, the basic motion of this dance is taken from the country of origin that’s the Middle East, and that makes Rodat Cempako Dance very dynamic and lively. This dance performance is done using Arabic verses that comes from the book of Al-Berzanji.

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e. Madik (Nindai) Dance
The people of Palembang have a habit that when they choose the woman they wanted to get married into then the parents of the man will come to the woman’s home with the intent to see and assess the girl whether she’s fit and proper enough for their son and also not forgetting to check her personality and their family way of life.

By doing this then it is hoped that if the girl becomes their daughter-in-law then she will not disappoint and their way of life will run in accordance with the expectations of the groom’s family

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4. Custom Clothing

Indigenous clothes of South Sumatra can be regarded as a symbol of civilization culture of people of South Sumatra. Because in it there are elements of life philosophy and its harmony. This can be seen from the choice of colors and patterns that adorn the custom clothing.

Then, coupled with the accessories thus further add to the sacredness that appears on the look of custom clothing that serves as the cultural identity of the people of South Sumatra.

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5. Traditional Weapon

South Sumatra also has distinctive traditional weapon inherited from the past Sriwijaya Kingdom and sometimes used as a symbol in their tradition. Below will be discussed some of the best known

a. Traditional Weapon Trisula Spears
The first traditional weapon of South Sumatra and which often become the cultural icon of this province is the Trident spear. This spear is shaped like a wooden spear with 3 sharp points at the end.

The length of the spear can reach as tall as an adult person, which is about 180 cm and formerly used by Sriwijaya royal soldier as the main weapon. In their belief, this spear symbolizes both courage and wisdom.

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b. Traditional Weapon Keris
Kris is not only known to just the people of Java Island. Several other sub-ethnic Malay regions also recognize this type of weapon in their culture, including the people of South Sumatra. Despite having the same shape, the kris of South Sumatra has its own characteristics.

That is the amount of curvature on the Kris is always an odd number of 7 to 13 with a wide angle. That is why the typical keris of South Sumatra tend to be longer. However, in the current era, the Kris is more often used as a custom clothing for groom accessories.

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c. Traditional Weapon Skin
Skin is a traditional weapon of South Sumatra that is thought to have originated from the acculturation of local culture with the culture of Chinese merchants and East Asia in the past.

This weapon looks like a typical karambit of West Sumatra, but its size is smaller and has 2 sharp blades. Skin belongs to a melee type weapon. Generally, someone will use this weapon only in a state of urgency.

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d. Traditional Weapon Khudok
There is another Weapon called Khudok located in the upstream river of Palembang, precisely in the culture of Pagar Alam community. There we will find another variant of the traditional weapon of South Sumatera which until now still exist. The weapon is called Khudok.

Khudok is always carried by men, especially wherever they go in the case to protect themselves. The habit of carrying Khudok weapons for the men until now still exist, especially in the culture of the society of Pagar Alam.

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6. Local Language

Palembang Language is derived from Old Malay language that blended with Javanese language and spoken according to the dialect by Palembang people. Soon after the language that has become the property of Palembang is also enriched with Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Chinese, Portuguese, English and Dutch words.

Palembang language consists of two levels, the first is the everyday language that is used almost by everyone in this city or also called the youth language. Second, the subtle language used by the limited circle of people and usually spoken among respectable community or elderly people.

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7. Local Tribe

South Sumatra has a different tribe that lives in the area, mostly merchants who came during past time and choose to settle there and created their own community. Below will be discussed some of them

a. Komering Tribe
Komering is one of the tribes in cultural regions of South Sumatra, located along the Komering River. Like other tribes in South Sumatra, the character of this tribe is an explorer so that the spread of this tribe is quite extensive in Palembang. The Komering tribe is divided into two major groups: Komering Ilir who live around Kayu Agung and Komering Ulu who live around the town of Baturaja.

The Komering cultural area is the most widespread area in comparison with other tribal in South Sumatra. In addition, when viewed from the character of the community, Komering tribe is known to have a strong temperament and outspoken behavior.

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b. Palembang Tribe
The Palembang tribe is divided into two groups that are Wong Jeroo which is a descendant of nobles and Wong Jabo which is an ordinary people. An expert on the origin of Palembang people who are also the descendants of the king recognizes that the Palembang tribe is the result of the mixing of Arabs, Chinese, Javanese and other tribal groups in Indonesia.

Palembang tribe itself has two languages, namely Baso Palembang Alus and Baso Palembang Sari-Sari. Palembang tribe still live or stay in the house that was built on top of the water.

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8. Food

There are 2 famous foods that come from Palembang and still become favorite for many people in Indonesia.

a. Typical food of Pempek
Pempek is a typical food of Palembang which has been famous all over Indonesia. By using the main ingredients of fish and sago meat, Palembang community has successfully developed the basic ingredients into various types of Pempek.

Furthermore, this is done by varying the contents and other additives such as chicken eggs, fish skin, and tofu as the basic ingredients.

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b. Typical food of Tekwan
Tekwan is a typical snack Palembang made from a mixture of fish meat and tapioca, which is shaped in the form of small spheres, and served in a typical shrimp sauce. Usually, the mixtures of Ttekwan is vermicelli, sliced Bengkoang, and mushrooms, and sprinkled with sliced leek, celery, and fried onions.

Meanwhile, Tekwan comes from the word “Berkotek Samo Kawan”, which in Palembang means sitting chatting with friends.

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The culture in South Sumatra is the product of assimilation of many people coming there to trade and also the influence of Sriwijaya Kingdom is rather massive back in its day and in turn contributed to any cultures that still in use today in Palembang. Thus it is the duty of today’s generation to preserve the original identity of Palembang so that it won’t be lost over time