The people of Minangkabau, like the other ethnic groups in Indonesia, habe traditional arts.
The beautiful nature of the land and the unique custom of the people have characterized their
traditional arts such as : Literature, Theatre, Musics, Songs, and Dances.
Many of Indonesia's famous authors and poets are from West Sumatra. The development of
literature in West Sumatra during the last few centuries given color to the form of literature of
Indonesia up to day.
A part from the colloquial form of the Minangkabau language, there is a formal language,
which is used for formal meetings and ceremonies. Indeed, the Minangkabau literature takes
the form of aphorism or quatrain, although the expressions are figurative but the meanings
Minangkabau literature also includes many folk tales, which are very popular not only among
the local people, but also among the people of Indonesia.
Folk Theatre Randai
Randai is a typical Minangkabau opera because it shows a combination of acting, dancing,
music, and singing. It usually plays a folktale, performed at an open air square in a village by
a small group of young men and boys. The amount of actors depends upon the characters
needed in the story.
Almost every village in West Sumatra has one or more Randai groups. There never females
play in the original Randai. Female characters are played by males in female make up.
Although nobody knows when the ancestors of Minangkabau people were first acquinted
with music, it remains a fact that music has become an integral part of life of the
The traditional music of Minangkabau is similar to other Indonesian music. It includes
percussion, wind ,string instruments, and drums. The instruments are played by a small
group of 5 to 12 musicians.
Dances in West Sumatra are also part of the cultural heritage of the Minangkabau. There
remain some traditional dances which can only be found in some villages. They are usually
performed for special events like folk festivals or traditional ceremonies. According to
tradition, only the men dance. This is considered taboo for women or girls to dance, but not
anymore of today. The steps and movements of the Minangkabau dances are characterized
by the traditional Minangkabau's art of self defence.