Suntiang: A Crown that Speaks Grandeur
(Image credits: theAsianParents.com)
On special occasions like weddings or cultural events, headpieces have evolved into one of its iconic statement pieces. The West Sumatran headdress Suntiang, with its extravagant and opulent gold appearance, is one that draws attention, with its gold color highlighting the bride's Kebaya or other wedding attire. Initially, Suntiang was only worn by women, although other sources claimed that men could also wear Suntiang, and they would do so under a different name. This ornament is a symbol of the greatness of the Anak Daro, or bride, in Minangkabau, especially in the Padang Pariaman Regency. Suntiang is usually worn during the wedding rituals such as marasek, maminang and babimbang tando, mahanta siri, babako-babaki, malam bainai, and manjapuik marapulai.
Each Suntiang weighs around 3,5-5 kilograms, which represents the major task a Minang woman will have to shoulder after marriage. This significant responsibility extends beyond the home and family to include the neighborhood in which the wife lives. Sizes of suntiang vary depending on usage. The bride wears a larger suntiang known as a Suntiang Gadang. Smaller Suntiang are typically worn by bridesmaids or traditional dancers, which is known as Suntiang Ketek. Suntiang is further classified into several types according to its shape, including Suntiang Bungo Pudieng, Pisang Saparak, Pisang Saikek (this has more small ornaments at the back side of the Suntiang), Kambang (it has moving flower ornaments attached), Mangkuto, Kipeh, Sariantan, and Matua Palambaian. Even in coastal areas, there are a number of other bridal crowns, such as Suntiang Tanduk and Suntiang Pisang Saprak. On the other hand, coastal Padang Suntiangs was thought to be the most coveted and popular in the 1960s. According to historical accounts, Suntiang in the past was much more complicated than it is today, because each piece was detached and we need to put it together one-by-one.
On Minang brides, there are typically an odd number of Kembang Goyang in the levels of Suntiang. With seven levels as the lowest and eleven levels as the highest number of Suntiang levels. On the headdress of this Minang bride, four different types of ornaments are arranged to form a Suntiang. Several Bungo Sarunai (chrysanthemums) make up the bottom layer. The foundation of the Suntiang Minang structure is made up of three to five layers of this chrysanthemum flower.
Suntiang is a fusion of local culture and Chinese culture. But as of right now, it has assimilated into Padang Pariaman culture and spread throughout the Minangkabau region. The beauty of the colors and the variety of decorations in the Suntiang go hand in hand with this reason. The various decorations that are used as Suntiang forming elements, starting from the elements of life that exist on land, air, to water or sea, are typically inspired by what exists in nature. This resonates with “Alam takambang jadi guru”, which translates as everything in nature can be used as a lesson or an example, is the general way of life of the Minangkabau people.
Marapulai Basuntiang, a Suntiang made for men, is still preserved in Nagari Indrapura, Muaro Sakai. It is believed that the usage of Marapulai Basuntiang is part of a culture that has been handed down from the kings of this region of the kingdom, and continues to be preserved up until today. The Suntiang worn by the anak daro is different from the suntiang worn by the Marapulais if you pay close enough attention. The suntiang motif on the groom is larger, and both the height and the width are condensed. In contrast to suntiang anak daro, which has a finer pattern and larger, taller, and wider pieces, Suntiang marapulai gives off the impression of being authoritative and firm. Suntiang Anak Daro, on the other hand, exudes elegance and beauty. This tradition emerged when The Majapahit Kingdom attacked the Inderapura region in the 14th century AD during Gajah Mada’s era. Adityawarman, the king of Majapahit, arrived in Inderapura with the goal of establishing control over the region because of its rich natural resources. Adityawarman and his troops weren't greeted with weapons of war when they arrived. Instead, an anak daro dressed in a suntiang danced to welcome Majapahit. There was an abandoned war agreement after the dances. King Adityawarman was attracted to or liked one of the dancing anak daro in particular. In order to marry the anak daro, Adityawarman must wear a suntiang so that he matches the anak daro, hence why the marapulai basuntiang tradition is created.
Suntiang is still popular amongst Indonesians for its extravagant design that stands out. This headpiece has much more meaning than just an exquisite crown, which symbolizes a woman's elegant beauty on her wedding day.