Aceh is one of the provinces in Indonesia which is located on the northern part of Sumatra / Sumatera Island. Aceh is considered the first place where Islam spread in Indonesia. Because of this Aceh has a nickname, Serambi Mekah. Serambi means roofed porch or land in front of the house for the front porch or verandah. Mekah is the birthplace of Muhammad, the holiest city of Islam. Since Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world Aceh’s nickname makes sense since this area of Indonesia is the closest to Mecca.
The Aceh province has 13 tribes, namely: Aceh tribe, Gayo tribe, Aneuk Jamee tribe, Singkil tribe, Pakpak tribe, Alas tribe, Kluet tribe, Tamiang tribe, Devayan tribe, Sigulai tribe, Lekon tribe, Haloban tribe and Nias tribe. Aceh tribe is the biggest tribes in Aceh. Traditional art and dance abounds in this area and is filled with historical stories and of their Islamic faith.
Below are some of Aceh’s traditional dances:
- The Saman dance is a dance which came from the Gayo tribe that is known worldwide. Saman dance was created by an Islamic figure called Syeh Saman. Saman dance used to celebrate important events like the birthday of Muhammad.
Distinctive feature of Saman dance is not using music instrument. Instead they only sing a poem accompanied with blowing in their hands, chests and thighs. The lyrics are mixed of Arabic and the Gayo language. Saman dance is played by a dozen or so men.
In one group, one person selected as a regulator and singer (called Sheikh). The characteristics of this Saman dance is movement that changes rapidly.
- Laweut Dance
The Laweut dance came from Pidie area in Aceh. The word Laweut is derived from Seulawet, which means praise to Muhammad. The Laweut dance is performed while there is a party, wedding, or festivals. This dance is performed by eight women. Laweut Dance aims to provide education and development messages. Just like the Saman dance, the Laweut dance is not accompanied by instruments. They only use fingers, pats on the arm, chest, and thighs.
- Cangklak Dance
Cangklak dance is a dance that was popular in Aceh with the typical dance movements from the eastern region of Aceh. Cangklak dance is performed by beautiful, graceful and energetic girls equipped with accessories to beautify the dancer. Cangklak dancer equipped with two fans and accompanied by tambourine percussion and song.
- Tarek Pukat Dance
The Tarek Pukat dance comes from big Aceh district. “Tarek” means pull and “pukat” means nets, which are used by traditional fisherman to catch a fish. This dance, tells about the life of the Aceh people who live on the coast, where most of them are fisherman. Tarek Pukat dance is played by 7 – 9 girls and 4 – 5 male as accompanist.
- Rapai Geleng Dance
The Rapai Geleng dance comes from ethnic Aceh, in southern Aceh. Rapai is a kind of musical instrument tambourine, Geleng means “shaking head.” This dance is intended to teach the men how to socialize in society. Rapai Geleng dance is performed by 11-12 dancers who are generally men. The choreography is almost the same with the Saman dance, but this dance uses a tambourine as an accompaniment instrument.
- Rateb Meuseukat Dance
The Rateb Meuseukat Dance is the most famous dances in Indonesia. This dance comes from south Aceh. The name of Rateb Meuseukat is from Arabic language. Rateb or Ratib means worship and Meuseukat is Sakat which means silence. This dance is performed by 10 to 12 girls accompanied by music and geundrang Rapai. The songs in this dance are the songs of praise and worship.
- Ranup Lampuan Dance
The Ranup Lampuan Dance is derived from Banda Aceh, the provincial capital and largest city in the province of Aceh, Indonesia. This dance is performed by seven women accompanied by traditional music called the Seurunee Kalee. This dance is meant to welcome honored guests, such as state officials. Each step in this dance symbolizes sincerity from the house owner to welcome the guests. Ranub means “betel leaf.” Puan mean something like a “bowl made of brass.” They dance while bringing Puan which is filled with Ranub. At the end of the dance, the dancers give a betel leaf to each guest as a sign of honor.
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