Padri War

History of Indonesia

The Padri War (also called the Minangkabau War) was fought from 1821 to 1837, in West Sumatra between Dutch troops and the indigenous population.


In the 1820s, the Dutch had yet to consolidate their possessions in some parts of the Dutch East Indies (later Indonesia) after re-acquiring it from the British. This was especially true on the island of Sumatra, where some areas would not come under Dutch rule until the 20th century.

During the Napoleonic wars indegenous peoples in Sumatra had made progress in throwing off the Dutch yoke. During this time a conflict had broken out in West Sumatra between the so called "adat" and "padri" factions. Both factions included Minangkabaus and were at least nominally Muslims. The Adats were Minangkabau traditionalists who wanted to continue to include indigenous pre-Islamic religious practices and social traditions in local custom (Islam Abangan). The Padris, like contemporaneous jihadists in the Sokoto Caliphate of West Africa), were Islamist reformers who had made the "hajj" to Mecca and returned [Their embarkation and disembarkation port of Pedir, Sumatra, gave them their name.] inspired to bring the Qur'an and "shariah" to a position of greater influence in Sumatra. The Padri movement had formed during the early nineteenth century and sought to purify the culture of traditions and beliefs its partisans viewed as un-Islamic, including syncretic folk beliefs, cockfighting, gambling, drinking alcohol, and Minangkabau matrilineal traditions.

kirmishes and the Masang Treaty

After most of the Minangkabau royal family was murdered in 1815, the Adat faction sought assistance from the Dutch upon their return to Sumatra in 1819. Between 1821-1824, skirmishes broke out throughout the region, ended only by the Masang Treaty. The war cooled down during the next six years, as the Dutch faced larger-scale uprisings in Java. [See the Java War.]

Dutch advances

The conflict broke out again in the 1830s with the Dutch gaining early victories. Soon after, the war centered on Bonjol, the fortified last stronghold of the Padris. It finally fell in 1837 after being besieged for three years, and along with the exile of Padri leader Tuanku Imam Bonjol, the conflict died out.


With the victory, the Dutch tightened their hold on West Sumatra. Yet there was a positive legacy for the native Minangs: after the war, the tribal and religious leaders increasingly reconciled their visions. This helped promulgating the new view of "adat basandi syara', syara' basandi Kitabullah" ("tradition founded upon Islamic law, Islamic law founded upon the Qur'an").

ee also

* Tuanku Imam Bonjol, leader in the Padri movement


Further reading

*Ricklefs, M. C. (1993) "A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1300." 2d ed. (London: Macmillan), 1993.
*Tarling, Nicholas, (ed.) "The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia,", vol. II " The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" (Cambridge University Press) 1992.

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