Introduction / History The Talang Mamak people live in the districts of Pasir Penyu, Siberida, and Renggat in the regency of Indragiri Hulu in the province of Riau. Their population center includes three areas known as Pasirpenyu, Siberida, and Rengat. In this area, they are a minority amidst a mix of Riau Melayu, Kubu, Minangkabau, Jawa, and other people groups. While the history of the Talang Mamak is unclear, they seem to have been influenced by the Minangkabau culture. Marks of this influence include similar clothing designs and the shape of their rice barns (rangkinang). The Talang Mamak have their own language by the same name. The origin of the name Talang Mamak is as follows. The word Mamak means "a respected person," and is derived from the same word in the Minangkabau language. Formerly, the ancestors of the Mamak people would clear an area of jungle for a new settlement, which as called a Talang.
What are their lives like? The Talang Mamak live a simple life. They are not attracted to technology or education. Their main foods are rice and cassava. They usually work as farmers planting rice and systematically moving from field to field while still using simple tools. They also plant corn, cassava, or various beans. Some Talang Mamak gain their livelihood through fishing, hunting, gathering rattan, or tapping rubber trees. Most Talang Mamak live in settlements that are spread throughout rubber tree forests. Typically, the houses are located quite far apart. Their houses are generally built on raised platforms. Logs, bark, and woven bamboo are used to build their homes, which are thatched with sago palm fronds. Usually, their houses have multiple levels, with each level containing only one room. The parents and small children live on the first floor and a married daughter and her family would stay on the second floor. Farming tools are stored on the third floor. The various roles of Talang Mamak leadership are identified with the following terms: Ria or Penghulu (village leader), Batin, Pemangku, Debalang, Orang Tuha (village elders), and Penghulu Muda (youth leaders). The duty of those involved in leadership is to rule on social conflicts, divorce, and carut (accidentally and wrongly saying things that hurt other persons).
What are their beliefs? Most Talang Mamak people fuse animistic and Islamic beliefs. They believe in spirits that inhabit various places and things. Ancestral treasures, such as a keris (a ceremonial knife), certain weapons, and clothes, are believed to have magical powers. They still worship Semambu Bauk (a cluster of bamboos with a huge snake) in the area of Batin Sungai Limau. They also believe that a large tree called Kayu Puako has magical powers. The Talang Mamak believe that God created Adam and Eve. They believe that this couple bore 9 children who later intermarried and had many descendants. One descendant was an unmarried woman who bore Datuk Perpatih Nan Sebatang, the ancestor of the Talang Mamak.
What are their needs? The Talang Mamak have a variety of needs. Their most urgent need is the establishment of a healthier living environment and better healthcare. They also need teachers and help with their educational facilities.