JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The procession of men and women of all ages wended their way into the Istano Basa Pagaruyung in West Sumatra’s Tanah Datar Regency. Sporting the vivid red, black and gold threads of traditional Minangkabau or West Sumatran clothing, the group entered the royal palace with their respective roles.
The women took traditional foods into the long wooden corridor, while the young men delivered a steady drumbeat from traditional drums to enliven the day.
As on other occasions, the palace and museum were decked out to welcome guests of honor, such as bicyclists racing in the annual Tour de Singkarak.
The most recent VIP to enter the Pagaruyung’s hallowed corridors is none other than celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who was received by Indonesian culinary wizard William Wongso.
Like other guests of honor, the two tucked into a bajamba traditional banquet of Minangkabau or West Sumatra specialties, including rendang beef stew.
Their interaction before the massive wooden structure formed part of the latest episode of Ramsay’s documentary Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted.
Iconic yet mysterious
The Pagaruyung royal palace’s facade has a grandeur reminiscent of Versailles in France or Buckingham Palace in Great Britain. However, little is known about its origins or the kings who built the structure, except that it was constructed in the 17th century.
In a June 22, 2013 Kompas.com article titled “Pagaruyung, Simbol Perekat Nusantara” (Pagaruyung, A Unifying Symbol of the Indonesian Archipelago), Andalas University history lecturer Muhammad Nur hinted at the origins of the palace’s name.