Acehnese Costume - The Unique Batik Art in Aceh
What is Acehnese Batik?
Acehnese Batik is a wax-resist method for generating patterns on a white or light-colored cloth. Indonesia, Java, China, Japan, central and eastern Asia, and Africa are all home to this well-known method of clothing design from many years ago, which is widely utilized worldwide.
Through Indonesian culture, the techniques, symbolism, and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik are evident: infants are carried in batik slings adorned with symbols intended to bring the child good luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik costumes with long sleeve length to honor their departed loved ones. In commercial and academic contexts, clothes with daily patterns are worn consistently, while exceptional types are integrated during festivities such as marriage and pregnancy, puppet theater, and other artistic endeavors.
Some rites, like the ceremonial casting of royal batik traditional clothes into a volcano, place the clothing at the center of the action. Craftspeople take great pride in their work and use hot wax to draw designs on fabric resistant to vegetable and other dyes. This allows the artisan to color selectively by soaking the cloth in one color, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating the process if more than one color is wanted.
The vast array of batik Acehnese designs represents a wide range of inspirations from Aceh traditional artists and worldwide artists, ranging from:
- Arabic calligraphy
- European flowers
- Chinese phoenixes
- Japanese cherry blossoms
- Indian or Persian peacocks
Indonesian people are proud of their national costume identity, reflected in the symbols and colors in this ancient art form passed down through generations.
Continue reading this article to have an overview image of the Acehnese people, their language, religion, and lifestyle.
Acehnese Asian People
Academia Acehnese, also known as Atjehnesis or Achinesis, is one of the most significant ethnic groups on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. In the early twenty-first century, they were projected to number around 4.2 million. They speak an Austronesian language family (Malayo-Polynesian).
Predating the year 500 CE, Indian rulers dominated the Acehnese, and in the thirteenth century, they were the first people in the Southeast Asian archipelago to convert to Islam. Following the expulsion of the Portuguese in the 17th century, the sultanate of Aceh (Acheh; Atjeh) ruled over northern Sumatra until 1904, when the Netherlands seized the sultan. However, despite living in Indonesia since 1949, the Acehnese have maintained high unrest. In the twenty-first century, the Acehnese still have a significant separatist movement in their area, which is run as a special autonomous district. Wooden Acehnese homes still exist in some parts of the country.
Three-room structures erected high above the ground on pilings. The maternal and paternal lineages are used to trace the line of descent. It is customary for newlyweds to remain with the bride's family after their wedding. Women hold great social status. Women do not cover their faces with veils, but they do cover their hair. It is customary for them to wear a premium skirt over pants, a jacket, a scarf, and various other accessories. In addition to a batik shirt, a jacket or shoulder cloth, and wide pants, Acehnese menswear features a turban.
It is connected to Malay but much more closely related to the Cham languages of central Vietnam, which are spoken in Aceh. Some fundamental terms from Austro-Asiatic languages have been incorporated into the Acehnese and Cham languages' lexicons (modern representatives of that family are Khmer, Mon, and Vietnamese). The Acehnese employed Malay in Arabic script as their primary written language until the 17th century; only in the 17th century did they begin to write literature in their language.
Traditional Acehnese believes bad spirits may be found in woods, marshes, river mouths, and banyan trees, among other locations. The jen aphui (fire spirit) manifests itself in the form of a bright light in the night. The sibujang itam is a rude, frightening, yet magically powerful entity that may be enlisted for evil purposes by those who wish to harm. When people are sleeping, the geunteut comes in and squeezes them down. The burong are ladies who have lost their lives through childbearing. They are dressed entirely in white, with excessively long fingernails and a hole in the back of their necks. Seven sisters died during childbirth, and their spirits are dangerous to people who are having a child.
According to tradition, the Acehnese are among the most devout Muslims in the archipelago. Their culture is considered to be the most inextricably linked to Islam, as befits a region that has long been referred to as the "front porch (srambi) of Mecca," the region from which all Muslims from Southeast Asia used to embark on the Haj (the pilgrimage to Mecca).
An adage describes this well: "[Acehnese] custom is to [Islamic] law as the essence is to manifestation," which translates as "[Acehnese] custom is to [Islamic] law as the essence is to manifestation." Sharia (Islamic law) affects everything that happens in a family. This law affects everything from marriage and divorce to funerals and inheriting money.
Immediately following Friday prayers, the lowest-level religious court convenes. The Acehnese are supporters of national Islamic political parties, such as the modernist Muhammadiyah, which was once in power.
During Ramadan, the Acehnese are particularly observant of three of Islam's five pillars.
- Making the journey to Mecca (Hajj)
- Paying the tithe (zakat)
- Fasting during the month of Ramadan (puasa)
Many people should be more constant in their five daily prayers. People have been practicing pantheistic mysticism for a long time, and pilgrimages to the graves of famous mystics have become more common in the last few years.
The use of magic to achieve success in agriculture and other industries is considered outside the bounds of Islamic orthodoxy. Religious components such as Arabic prayers and the recitation of the surah "Yasin" from the Qur'an are included in ritual dinners to bless rice production (kenduri blang) and fishing (kenduri laut).
Female shamanism is a long-standing practice in the area. Spells issued by dukun (spirit healers) include sijundai, which can induce disease and death, as well as spells that negate the effects of other spells. Exorcistic rituals, which try to "cool" the ill person, are included in the healing process. Dukun is also well-versed in the interpretation of dreams and omens.
Acehnese Village Life
It is common for villages (gampong) to have 50–100 households, with the houses of kin clustered or lined up next to one another with only a fence separating them. Every hamlet has at least one meunasah, an open structure supported by piles on all four sides and open at the top. It functions as a prayer hall, school, dormitory for the village's young men and houseguests, and as a venue for public events and other gatherings.
Houses facing the sea or the south are elevated on 2024 posts, each 30 cm (12 in) in diameter and 2.53 m (8.10 ft) in height, with a diameter of 30 cm (12 in) and a height of 2.53 m (8.10 ft) (either wooden or bamboo, depending on family wealth). Older houses used rattan cording instead of nails to hold their floors together. Wooden planks and bamboo are commonly used for flooring. It has two slopes, is 26 meters high (6.5 meters and 20 feet), and is made of plaited sago palm leaf that lasts 20 years. This open veranda serves as the children's sleeping area and a place for guests to stay at weddings, funerals, and other special occasions. The center chamber (tungai) is divided by a central hallway, with the romoh inong on the left and the anjong on the right side of the room, respectively (sleeping quarters for the women of the family and the parents, respectively). The kitchen is in the back room (seuramoe likot) or a separate room from the rest of the house (tipik). Poorer families keep their married daughters in annexes to the main home, which they can afford. Harvested rice is kept in a krong pade, or berandang, located within the home. Coconut, citrus, and banana plants may be abundant throughout the garden.
As of 2005, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam had a Human Development Index (a measure of economic well-being combined with health and education measurements) 69, nearly equal to Indonesia's national score of 69.6.
The GDP per capita in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam is US $7,752, which is moderately high for Indonesia (compared to US $10,910 in North Sumatra, US $6,293 in Central Java, and US $2,919 in North Maluku; when income from petroleum and natural gas production is included, Aceh's GDP per capita reaches US $12,679, which is among the highest in the country).
In 2000, the infant mortality rate was 39.71 deaths per 1,000 live births, the fourth lowest rate recorded in Indonesia (after the national capital region of Jakarta, the highly urbanized Yogyakarta region, and North Sulawesi). Because of neglect by the central government, the effects of insurgency, and military repression, which were exacerbated by the devastation caused by the earthquakes and tsunamis of December 2004 and March 2005, Aceh has been deprived of a level of development that is commensurate with its natural resource wealth for many years. However, since the post-tsunami peace agreement, this situation has slowly improved.
Life within the Acehnese Family According to Islamic Law
Marriage of an uncle or aunt, as well as a nephew or niece, is forbidden. First cousins, particularly the children of two brothers or two sisters, should not marry each other. Yet, this does happen rather frequently, even though it is considered extremely bad.
Except for some situations where one family is wealthier, a newlywed couple often stays with the wife's parents after their wedding. As part of the marriage contract, the wife's parents agree to assist the couple financially until they have their first child.
In the case of impoverished families, the husband does not live in his in-laws' home but merely visits his wife there, still considering his own mother's village to be his home. For married couples from the same village, the guy will spend his nights in the meunasah while not with his wife. Many spouses trade or produce coffee far away from their families in other parts of the world, returning just for the Ramadan celebrations.
Regarding their interactions, the in-laws are very formal, at least until the birth of the first child. For this reason, fathers-in-law often sleep in the back room of the house to avoid hearing or bumping into their sons-in-law; they will even communicate with them solely via the wall. When a man's wife is absent, he feels much closer to his younger in-law siblings, who can function as intermediaries between the man and his in-law parents when the wife is absent.
Children are more inclined to confide in their mother than they are to confide in their father, and they are more likely to discuss their difficulties with the former than with the latter (mothers raise children, while fathers are usually away all day working). The relationship between fathers and their grown children is typically strained, with the father frequently portraying himself as an "autocratic" figure. Furthermore, even though the father's siblings are accountable for his children in the event of his death, children tend to have a stronger emotional attachment to the mother's relatives. Grandparents like spoiling their grandkids, so parents prefer that their children do not spend time with their grandparents.
Only affluent men can have more than one wife at a time. If a woman dies while the pair is still receiving financial assistance from her parents, the husband is entitled to a return of half the bride price or, in the alternative, one of the couple's other daughters is given to the husband as a wife. If a husband dies, his widow is nearly always taken in by one of his brothers as his new wife.
Acehnese Cultural Heritage
A few examples of traditional dances are the tari ranub lampuan, which depicts young women distributing betel to guests; the Arab-influenced seudati agam for males and seudati inong for females; the saman, in which dancers sit in a row on the ground, performing coordinated hand and body movements in a dynamic rhythm; and the ramphak, a female dance demonstrating courage in the face of the Dutch. Rapa-i is a musical performance that accompanies chanting with the rebana tambourine.
Many Malay masterpieces, such as the Pasai royal chronicle Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai, the heretical mystical poetry of Hamzah Fansuri, and the Nuruddin ar-Bustan Raniri's as-Salatin (the Garden of Kings), an encyclopedic book on history and politics, were written in Acehnese cities. The first written works in the Acehnese language, including prose and poetry, appeared in the 17th century. An example of a classic is the Hikayat Perang Sabil (Chronicle of the Holy Conflict), which tells the story of the Dutch War.
It is through wet-rice agriculture that the vast majority of Acehnese make their living. Most fields begin as swampland that has been sectioned off; just a few rely on irrigation from rivers and streams. Irrigation is managed by males collaborating with women who plant and weed the fields.
Swidden (shifting-cultivation) fields outside the hamlet supply additional crops such as dry rice, chilies, papayas, sweet potatoes, and vegetables for the village's needs. Previously, pepper was the most important cash crop (presently, coffee is the most important cash crop). A job as a trader selling agricultural products can be an excellent alternative to farming.
Fishing is another important source of income; traditionally, pawang guilds, consisting of a leader and a boat crew, divided up a length of coast to maximize their profits. The Acehnese also raise cattle and water buffalo, selling their animals as far away as Medan, where they live. Even though there is a dairy business, it was started by Bengali immigrants and is still run by them.
In the past, the principal exports were rubber from plantations and palm oil from palm oil plantations. Today, oil and natural gas production helps grow small towns and cities.