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Seudati, Traditional War Dance of Aceh

Updated on May 3, 2020
Zaman Hurri profile image

Zaman Hurri is a teacher and an headmaster of an Islamic School In Indonesia. He pays attention to culture and education.

Dancers performing sedati
Dancers performing sedati | Source

About the seudati

The seudati is a traditional dance from Aceh. It is a folk dance. Every Aceh people know about this dance. They really like to watch it. When a dancing show is held, the seudati must be performed. They eagerly want to look at eight young men moving, running, jumping on the stage. The young men do the seudati with happiness. They perform it following the song sung by two singers.

Actually, the seudati is an Islamic propaganda ( dakwah) dance. Formerly, Islamic scholars of Aceh created it to share the massage of Islam to every people of Aceh. They used this medium to make Aceh people interesting to learn this religion. In performing dakwah, They gathered the people in front of the stage by using the seudati as medium.

The name of the seudati comes from the word "Syahadatain" in Arabics. It means to make two acknowledgements to God and apostle at the first time a person converting to Islam. Based of this argument, It means that the seudati has Islamic character.

Nowadays, this dance becomes a folk dance. It is performed in welcoming event of guests, dancing festivals and other custom events.


The dancers of the seudati

The seudati is performed by eight dancers and two singers. The dancers is led by a dance leader called 'syeh', he is helped by one assistant leader. The leader is also accompanied by two left side dancers named 'apet wi" and one main assistant called 'apet bak' . And the last three others are common assistants. When they are dancing, they follow a traditional song. There are two singers. They are named aneuk syahi. There is no music over there. The dancers just follow the rhythm and tempo of the song.

The characteristic of the dance is moving. The dancers move with agile on a stage. Sometimes they move, run and jump quickly without being hit each others. They hit their chest and make picking fingers. The sound of hitting the chest and picking the fingers is like the rhythm of music. It is very attractive.

The seudati in action

The song of the seudati

The song of the dance is like a traditional rhyme. It is sung by the singers loudly in a such rhythm and tempo so that the the dancers can follow it. When it is sung quickly, they do dance in quick moving too.

The material of the song is about everything. It can be loving, daily life, sadness, happiness, Islamic messages. government messages and others topics. But most of the song topics are about Islamic messages , because the main aim of the seudati created is to share Islamic messages. Formerly, in war era, the rhyme was about war and Islamic spirit. The dance was played to rise the spirit of war. It could make the young of Aceh motivated to war. The dare of them rose at that time.


The seudati, the dance of war

The Seudati became the dance war in Aceh war. Islamic scholars inserted the spirit of warfare in the rhyme of the seudati. They put in jihad norm in the rhyme. When they gathered the youngs, they performed the seudati. It rose the spirit of the youngs of Aceh to fight the colonial troops. Most of them were affected by. They were lucky to join the war. Without being afraid, they fought enemies. The war was an holy war. They wanted to die in shaheed, Most of them were death.

In this case, the colonial government knew that those was the effect of the dance. The colonial governor asked the people of Aceh to stop performing it. They even shot the dancers who were dare to do it. The seudati was a horror to the governor.

The seudati on nowadays

In Aceh society now, The seudati is just a dance, It is likes the others. It is performed in dancing festivals, custom ceremonies and wedding parties. Some of Aceh people make dancing grups. When someone invites this dancing grup for rent. They perform it for earning money. There is no taste of war and horror any more. It is just a dance.

For the youngs of Aceh, they are not interested to the dance any more. they assume it out of date. They maybe forget the dance. It is worried that the dance will be out of the world. In this case, the government of Aceh has make a rule about the traditional dances of Aceh must be a lesson in every schools in Aceh.

The seudati in a festival in Aceh
The seudati in a festival in Aceh | Source

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