There is a Saman Dance! These are 12 Variety of Acehnese Dances and Their Explanations

Aceh dance – Indonesia has a very diverse culture and arts from each region. One of the areas in Indonesia which is very rich in art is the province of Aceh.

Just like other provinces, this province which is on the tip of the island of Sumatra also has many well-known cultural and artistic products. Among them are traditional Acehnese dances.

Not only known as a city of religious tourism and culinary tourism, Acehnese dance is also quite well-known among Indonesians and even abroad. In the official website of the Province of Aceh, the traditional art of Acehnese dance has developed from generation to generation which then made it a cultural identity for the people and Province of Aceh.

When talking about Acehnese dance, many people will immediately think of the Saman dance. Even though there are many types of traditional dances from Aceh and have their own historical stories that are no less interesting.

So, what are the various types of Aceh dance and what are the explanations? Check out the review below to get to know the 12 types of Aceh dance and their explanations. Check this out !

12 Aceh Dances You Need to Know

1. Saman Dance

The first and most famous Acehnese dance is the saman dance. On November 24, 2011 in Bali, this dance was officially included by UNESCO on the Representative List as an intangible cultural heritage of mankind.

Based on the Forum National Seminar held by AP2SENI or the Association of Indonesian Dance and Music Drama Education Study Programs in 2015, the saman dance is a dance created by a great Acehnese scholar named Syekh Syaman. It is known that this dance originally came from the Gayo tribe in Central Aceh.

Saman dance itself is a dance that relies on clapping your hands on your thighs or hands again while singing certain verses. Saman dancers will wear special colorful clothes and during the performance, the dancers will form a distinctive floor shape and pattern.

In doing this dance, the dancers must line up to form a straight line to the side. The meaning of this part of the dance is because humans are social beings and always need other humans.

This dance, which is performed in groups, is also interpreted as an understanding of Islamic teachings in the land of Aceh. In fact, for the sitting pattern, the dancers will sit with their feet bent as if they were sitting between two prostrations in prayer. This has the meaning as Muslims who are forming rows when carrying out their obligations, namely prayer.

This dance is included in entertainment dances to celebrate traditional ceremonies and religious celebrations, such as Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, circumcision celebrations, to welcoming state guests. In its native area, namely the Gayo tribe, this dance is performed to celebrate the joy of an abundant harvest.

2. Likok Pulo Dance

Likok Pulo dance is a dance originating from the Uleee Paya area, Mukim of Pulau Beras Selatan, Pekan Badan, Aceh Besar. This dance was created by an Arab trader and scholar named Syeh Ahmad Badron around 1849.

Etymologically, the name of this traditional Acehnese dance comes from two words, namely the word likok and the word pulo . The word likok means dance movement, while the word pulo means island.

The island referred to in the word is a small island located at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra which is called Pulau Beras or Breuh . Based on historical records, this Likok Pulo dance is often held after planting rice or before the harvest time arrives.

At this time, this dance is included in the type of performance or entertainment dance. The show is performed at certain traditional ceremonies and is still performed when the rice is finished planting. In the performance, the dancers will be equipped with a dance property called boh likok or bamboo. The composition or order of motion in the Likok dance are:

  • The Likok Pulo dance is performed in a sitting position, kneeling, forming a banjar, shoulder to shoulder.
  • The main dancer, called the sheikh, will be in the middle of the line.
  • There are two people who are beating the musicians or rapai behind or on the right and left sides of the Likok Pulo dancers.
  • The limbs used for dancing are the upper body, body, hands and head.

3. Malelang Dance

This dance originates from the South Aceh region, to be precise in Padang Village, Kesamatan Susoh. This malelang dance is included in the type of entertainment and performance dance. In addition, this traditional dance also has a purpose as a medium of teaching and media of advice through poetry or lyrics spoken by the dancers during the performance.

This dance is usually performed at traditional ceremonies, such as wedding celebrations, circumcision of apostles, and releasing vows. In Aceh itself there is a tradition when someone intends or vows to have children, then he will let go of this vow by holding this malelang dance.

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This typical dance from South Aceh is usually danced by 10 to 12 adult female dancers. When going to dance, the dancers will form a circular position and move forward, to the center, and out.

4. Seudati Dance

Tari Aceh

Seudati dance is one of the traditional dances from Aceh which has its own uniqueness in its performances. This dance, which originates from the coast of Aceh, is performed by 10 men. Eight people will serve as dancers and two other people will sing as accompaniment.

In contrast to other dances which are accompanied by certain music, the Seudati dance is performed without the accompaniment of any musical instrument. Instead, there is a chant sung by aneuk syahi .

The name of the Seudati dance itself comes from Arabic, namely Syahadat, which means testimony or acknowledgment that there is no God but Allah and the Prophet Muhammad is His messenger. This is found in the beliefs of Muslims.

However, there are also those who say that the word ‘seudati’ comes from the word ‘seurasi’ which means harmonious or compact. This is in line with history which says that this Seudati dance tells about various kinds of problems that have occurred. This dance is also performed so that the people of Aceh know how to solve this problem together.

At first, this typical Acehnese dance was known as a coastal dance which was also known as Ratoh or Ratoih . This means dances that tell how to start a game or demonstration of joy when the harvest season is coming or when the night of the full moon occurs.

When going to perform this dance, the dancers will wear white clothes combined with long plain pants. The dancers will also be equipped with accessories in the form of songket cloth that is used from the waist to the thighs.

In addition, the dancers will also be equipped with additional accessories in the form of a rencong at the waist and a tangkulok or headband. All the accessories for this dance will be red, according to the characteristics of the Seudati dance.

5. Ranub Lampuan Dance

The ranub lamp dance is one of Aceh’s traditional dances which is included in the list of traditional dances. This dance originates from the city of Banda Aceh and was created by Yuslizar around 1962.

The word ranub lamp in the Acehnese language means betel in the cerana , which is a place to store betel nut. In the customs of the tribes and people of Aceh, this dance will be performed and performed to honor guests.

In the show, this ranub lamp dance consists of seven female dancers and several accompaniment for band music. This dance also uses traditional musical instruments for its performances, such as the serune kalee and geundrang musical instruments as accompaniment.

6. Labehaten Dance

Labehaten dance is a traditional dance originating from the Singkil area, Aceh. Etymologically, the word labehaten comes from the Singkil language which means tiger. The choice of words is in harmony with the movements of the dancers when the show begins.

In his appearance, the labehaten dance is danced by two male dancers. Then, the two dancers will dance by crawling like a tiger. One dancer will look for another person in the middle of the wedding crowd.

In this dance, there will be a funny scene when the dancer is hiding among the women who are gathering. The women will also chase away the dancers while laughing merrily. During the performance, this dance is accompanied by a drum instrument using Sikundidi music rhythms.

7. Tuak Kukur Dance

This dance originates from Central Aceh District, precisely in the area of ​​origin of the Gayo tribe. In fact, apart from the saman dance, the Gayo tribe also has another traditional dance called the tuak kukur dance.

The word tuak itself comes from the sound or word spoken to drive away the balam bird. Meanwhile, the word kukur means the name of the balam bird in Gayo language. So, it can be concluded that Tuak Kukur has the meaning of expelling the balam bird.

The background of this dance is to tell how the farmer’s life is when the rice starts to turn yellow until it is harvested and becomes processed rice. This tuak kukur dance is certainly related to the busyness of the farmers in processing the rice which protects the rice from the balam bird which is looking for food.

This dance will begin by moving the hands to the right and left repeatedly. This movement is also done simultaneously by holding the edge of the cloth. Usually, this dance will be performed by seven teenage and adult women.

8. Shiva Dance

This Aceh dance art has its own uniqueness. This is because the siwah dance will be performed using sharp weapons. It might be a little similar to the dampeng dance, but actually the two are very different, especially in the composition of the dancers.

This dance actually displays the martial arts skills and dexterity possessed by the dancers. During the performance, there are dancers who are on the side of the circle, there are those who are outside the circle, and also dancers who are in the middle.

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In the center, there are ladies in waiting who are serving yellow sticky rice in front of them. This lady is actually a man playing the role of a woman. They also use special clothing and jewelry for women. After the series of dances was finished, the yellow sticky rice which was previously guarded by the lady-in-waiting was distributed to the audience.

9. Kepur Nunguk Dance

The name kepur nunguk comes from two different words, namely kepur and nunguk . The word kepur means to raise or sweep. While the word unguk is the name of a bird from the Aceh region.

For the letter ‘N’ in the word nunguk, means to show ownership or belonging. For example, the word ‘ Ni manuk’s child ‘, this sentence means a bird’s child or bird’s chick.

In this dance performance, the dancers wear costumes in the form of cloth to develop a distance reward. Then, the dancers will flick it up and down like the wings of a bird in flight.

When the wings are raised down, the dancer’s legs or body will move slightly lower. And when the wings will be raised up, the legs and body will also rise following the movement of the wings. This movement is the essence of this kepur nunguk dance.

10. Tarek Pukat Dance

This traditional dance comes from the coastal area. Even the tarek trawl movement was inspired by the tradition of trawling or pulling the road which is usually done by the people of Aceh who live near the sea.

This dance is quite simple because it describes the activities that Acehnese fishermen do when they are going to and are catching fish in the sea. This tarek trawl dance is generally performed in various cultural events, such as traditional events, cultural events, to welcoming ceremonies.

In the performance, the dancers will wear traditional clothes and are typical of trawler trajectories. These clothes are in the form of long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and headscarves to cover the head.

In addition, the dancers will also add accessories such as songket cloth and a belt for the waist. Their headscarves will be decorated as a sweetener and there will be a makeup artist to make them look very beautiful.

After the clothes are completely paired, the dancers will begin to enter the show arena. Then, the dancers will dance a special movement that uses a rope as an attribute, much like pulling the nets that are done by fishermen. In addition, they also performed accompanied by a special accompaniment group.

11. Laweut Dance

The name of the laweut dance itself is actually taken from the word selawat. Means praise addressed to the lord of Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad Sholallahu ‘alaihi wassalam. This word was taken because the poetry used to accompany the laweut dance indeed has many meanings to pray to the Prophet.

The main function of this dance is as a medium of preaching which provides knowledge about the teachings of Islam. So do not be surprised if every poem contains a deep message. Such as messages about faith, society, builders, and so forth.

In the show, this dance is not accompanied by special musical sounds. Instead, it is accompanied by a sound that comes from the body of the laweut dancer itself. Such as the sound of chest clapping, hand clapping, foot stomping, finger norms and manners, as well as the vocals of the syahi who sings poetry.

12. Ratoh Duek Dance

The ratoh duek dance is a dance that describes the spirit and togetherness of the Acehnese people. The harmony that occurs between the poetry and the rhythmic clapping of the dancers reflects how the Acehnese people work together in everyday life.

The word ratoh in the name of this traditional dance comes from the word rateb in Arabic. The word rateb itself means the activity of remembrance or prayer.

To perform this dance, there are no special properties like other traditional dances. The clothes worn by the dancers are Acehnese clothing which has been modified. The clothes are plain clothes that are added with songket cloth and headdresses and don’t forget the belt.


Each region in Indonesia has its own arts. Aceh province is no exception, which is at the very tip of the island of Sumatra.

Of course, traditional art takes many forms, and one of the most prominent is Acehnese dance. In Aceh itself, according to the government’s official website, the province, which is nicknamed Veranda of Mecca, even has 184 traditional dances spread throughout its cities and districts.

Maybe if asked about traditional dances from Aceh, some people will remember the saman dance. The saman dance is indeed one of the most popular dances from Aceh. In fact, this dance is already known in various countries and is included in the UNESCO cultural heritage.

But apparently, there are many other Acehnese dances that are no less unique and have their own history. That’s the explanation about Acehnese dance