The island of Nias West Sumatra
The most interesting travel spots home
THE ISLAND OF NIAS
The Nias archipelago, a group of small islands on the west coast
of West Sumatra. This group is consist of 11 islands along the coast with biggest are Nias and
Siberut islands. Nias People has of Mongoloid physical characters, with bright
yellow accented skin and straight hairs. They live in a simple way, and just currently
they got the influence from Sumatra mainland. Their megalithic culture is still
strong, which is become the main attraction for tourists beside their fine beaches
and clear water. Most people lives on farming and fishing.
Plces of Interests
The famous tourist's attraction is the ceremony of initiation or war training.
A high wall is installed on the front of the house. During the initiation ceremony
a youth is required to be able to jump over the wall. When he is able to pass
this ceremony than he is considered as entering the full right in the society.
The ceremony is called "zawozawo" Not less interesting is their housing
architecture and pattern. Traditional villages such as Bawomataluwo and Hilisimaetano
are not unfamiliar among world adventures, and anthropological researchers.
Their language is Malay-Polynesian with 3 dialects, but they understand each other.
Since they do not introduce writing, their words' vocabulary might changes throughout
the decades have passed. On the west coast of Sumatra island there are many small
islands inhabited by local people from unknown time such as Simalubek, Banyak,
Nias, Batu, Siberut, Sipora, Pagai and Enggano.
The group of Nias island is the
biggest among them and record was started that Nias people has been in trade relation
with Aceh in 1669 which gave them an influence of Islam, While Christian just
reached the island much later since 1874 especially in the town of gunung Sitoli,
the Catholic came later in 1914 reached on the southern area of Nias islands.
The development of population on Nias has been very fast, a record for 1914 was
130.000, in 1967 has been doubled to 300.000. According to the research by E.E.W.Gs
Schroeder that before the arrival of Dutch trader in 1669 the Nias has been doing
trade relation with Aceh, Chinese, Malay and the Bugis. The color of Nias people
is more yellower then other people of Indonesia which origin is still not yet
Language and Dialect
In general the language spoken by Nias people can be grouped as Malay-Polynesian
stem, but the level of morphemic it is different from other Indonesian dialects.
Their words do not introduce in the middle or at the end, which is called vocalist
dialect. Also the use of O phoneme makes different from other dialects. Within
the area of Nias itself there 2 dialects, one is used on northern area, and the
other is on southern area. Nias island is the main island enclosed by other small
islands such as Hinako, Senau, Safau and Batu islands. West beach of the islands
is faced with strong wave of Indian Ocean and in the middle is mountainous with
the highest peak of 886 m above sea level.
Most villages are in the difficult
inner part of the island which is a clear technique for them in resistencing of
the invader. The shape of it's village mostly u-shape and the house of the head
on the bottom of U. While on the west area the pattern of the village parallel
house rows. The original house of they are 2 Nias is made on stilt with oval outline
or quadrangular shape of basement. This is the traditional house of Nias which
size is bigger then other families houses. The traditional house is divided into
2 part, the front functioned as place for receiving guest including guest for
overnight, and inner part for the family and owner. At the front of the houses
are menhirs, a megalithic construction made of stone in anthropomorphic and huge
penis. Also stone altar at the front of the house which was used to organized
a big feast in the past from the status increase their social status. In southern
Nias villages stone jump altars still can be seen today, especially at Teluk Dalam
village. This high jump was a training to the villages to jump over enemi's wall
or any high barriers during war.
Living and Land
Visitor see this tradition at the village called
Bawomataluo and Hilisimaetano a village in Nias normally facilitated with water
fountain which is used as public bathing place, while for water closed they built
on their pig house. In the past they have many animistic constructions which have
been change into churches and they still call it Osali. The main subsistence of
Nias people is farmer both at highland and lowland. They use simple tools such
as long knife, like sword, hues and stick. They don not know the use of plough
dragged by cow or buffaloes as other parts of Indonesia. The Nias people use round
knife like fingering to harvest by bare hands. They grow rice, tapioca, yam, beans,
chili, corn, banana and other minor horticulture when go for hunting to protect
their cultivation from wild animal such as wild pigs, squires, deer, fruit bats
and others. They use net to trap the animal by driving them to their net using
dogs. Other also sail to the sea for fishing or capture the fish using nets. Their
most popular domesticated animal is pig, goats, and cow.
Nias was ever known as pig exporter in the recent decade, yet today their production has been really
going down. Beside animal growing they also able to make tools in metal such as
sword and long knife for arm with beautiful shape.
Genealogy system of Nias is
a big family called Sangambato which is consist of Senior family with families
of their children. This Sangambato is a unit of economic life and based on patrilineal
lineage. Bato is called Mado or Gana. Within a Mado or Gana member can not merry
each other unless each of the couple can be proved that they genealogically already
at least 10th generation, so Nias people has the marriage tradition of exogamy
between Mado. The process of marriage in Nias tradition consist of many steps.
First the parent of the youth will come to the family of the girl advising the
intention of their son to marry their daughter, while bring girls' family 3 pao
gold (1 pao around 10 gram). As a change the family of the girl gives a bag of
boiled pig meat. Three week after the family of the youth return the bag with
boiled pig meat second step is the discussion to set us the date of marriage ceremony
and the amount of payment in gold to girl's parent. Third step is marriage ceremony,
when a big number of pig are slaughtered for the invitees and big feast, which
mean show up of wealthy. After finishing this ceremony then the bridge is brought
to her husband house. The parent of the girl will 4 give this new couple one female
pig and a sword as the first capital for them to build the family. When the couple
has a child whom given a name for example "Hilo" then their relatives
or neighbor will address they wife as Ama Hilo for the husband, and Ina Hilo for
Death ceremony is very important in Nias society, the same as Tiwah
and Ngaben in Bali. This ceremony take a big vast. It can be a slaughating of
200-300 pigs during ceremony. But today, only certain person or family that still
conduct this type of ceremony to show their Velethyness. In the past the people
of Nias introduced social strata especially South Nias. Siulu or Nable, Ere or
religious leaders, Ono Mbanera or Common people, and Sawuyu or Slave. Slaves that
were capture of war or abduction were said to have been sacrificed during ancient
ceremony. The Nias before they know foreign religion such as Christianity, Moslem
and Buddhist they already have their original belief called Pelebegu. The Pelebegu
is basically a worship of ancestor's worship, yet there are also myth about time
after death, pantheon and the status of human life elements such as they body
and the spirit. When one died the body back into dust, and the spirit continue
to live in the heaven what they call Teteholi Ana'a.
Earth Quake 2005
NIAS HAS BEEN DEVASTATED BY TSUNAMI ON
SUDAY 09.00 WIB 26 DECEMBER 2004 OF 8.9 RICHTER SCALE EARTH QUAKE WHICH KILLED 228.000 PERSON INCLUDING
ACEH PROVINCE, AND NORTH WEST BEACHES OF NORTH SUMATRA AND THE WEH ISLAND. AS A RESULT NIAS COULD NOT
BE VISITED UNTIL THE TIME IT IS RECOVERED. SECOND QUAKE ON 28 MARCH 2005 OF 7.5 RICHTER SCALE HAS
KILLED AT LEAST 8.000 PEOPLE OF NIAS AND LEFT HUNDREDS HOMLESS AND INJURED. The beautiful island and
it's people in Nias has been put in trial by the nature despite the fact that their life from
beginning has been very difficult only based on the sea product managed traditionally and also their
farming is not favourable. This is real irony of the nature that giving people the missery
unlimited for their burden. It is the same as what has happened in Aceh. Aceh people is the most
obedient Muslim people to the god ( Allah ) in the world. Might be they need to review what they
have been so far.