Introduction / History
The Muko-Muko come from the North Muko-Muko and South Muko-Muko districts of north Bengkulu Regency of Bengkulu Province. They are located south of West Sumatra Province, west of South Sumatra Province and along the coast of the Indian Ocean. Part of their area is swampland or tidal waters where a brackish mix of ocean and river water mix. There are also many rivers, the largest of which is the Muko-Muko River. The Muko-Muko are no longer isolated, as the government has constructed a highway connecting Bengkulu Province to West Sumatra Province that passes through the Muko-Muko area. In everyday communication, the Muko-Muko speak their own speech variety, a dialect of Minangkabau influenced by Malay.
What are their lives like?
The Muko-Muko are farmers, fisherman, hunters, daily laborers, merchants and rattan craftsmen. Their most famous handicraft are carved cigarette lighters. In addition to this, they have community farms which produce rubber, cloves and palm oil. The kinship system is matrilineal, which means that descent and property are passed down to the daughters in the family. This is due to the influence of the related Minangkabau people. The Muko-Muko still use their traditional leadership system. Their villages are governed by a Pasirah (village chief) and his assistants. The role of the Pasirah is to safeguard stability and harmony according to their cultural customs, as well as to collect taxes and community fees. These fees can take the form of working three days every year for the village head or giving money amounting to the same value of the three days of work. Other fees are paid to get a certificate of marriage, certificate of divorce, peace treaties and permission to court a young maiden. The Muko-Muko use the term kaum to refer to a group of families. The kaum is led by the clan chief and his assistants. There are five clans that are still growing: Delapan, Berenam, Empat Belas (Seven Ancestors), Lima Suku and Gersik Tunggul. The most famous aspect of the Muko-Muko culture is the Gandai dance. This dance is similar to the Malay dances but has been influenced by the Minangkabau style of dancing. When they attend a cultural celebration the men wear traditional clothes called teluk belangga, which is a black jacket with a turban. The women wear traditional clothing called betabur, which is a blouse with a gold threaded cloth and a wrap-around skirt.
What are their beliefs?
Islam is the religion of the majority of the Muko-Muko, but in everyday life they still hold to animistic beliefs. At the core of these animistic beliefs is the effort to get protection from spirits using occultic power to control good and bad spirits. They are very afraid of the spirits of deceased mothers who died giving child birth. They also worship large tree, rocks, natural springs, ancestral graves and their ancestors.
What are their needs?
At this time the Muko-Muo need agricultural assistance, particularly with their community farms, so that the farms can be better managed and improve people's standard of living. They also need Indonesian language teachers because many of the Muko-Muko can not speak or even understand Indonesian.
Text source: Copyright © IPN, 2011. Used with permission.