Saman Dance, More than Just Break The National Record

In 2016, 6.600 performers of saman dance break the record when it was held at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) Jakarta.

Next year, 2017, 12.268 Saman dance re-break the national record for bigger amount of dancers involved at Seribu Bukit stadium located at Blangkejeren, Gayo Lues, Aceh. Actually it can also be called as the world record. (

Instead of only breaking the record with fascinating performance, Saman dance which was held at Seribu Bukit stadium has specific purposes. (

Through the song lyric, the dancers sang about the importance of protecting Leuser National Park, home for Sumatran tigers and another endangered animals which are threatened by rainforest destruction and the expansion of palm oil plantations.

As the traditional dance from Aceh, Saman dance has its own uniqueness than other dances in Indonesia.

From the performers, this dance is only involved by men. The dancer wears traditional black costume embroidered with colourful Gayo patterns.

The movement is quick and synchronized body movement between dancers and understanding of the song. Dancers clap their hands, slap their chests, thighs and the ground, click their fingers, and sway and twist their bodies and heads in time with the shifting rhythm.

For the music itself there is no music. Saman dance is always followed by lyrics which is sang by the unison consist to advice relating to religious or current issues.

Before, saman was only played for religious events such as maulid. But now we also can see saman at wedding parties, khanduri or even khitan event.

This “dance of the thousand hands” always makes people admire to see the incredible performance. That is why saman dance often breaks the record.

The Importance of Leuser for The World

Gunung Leuser National Park has an area of 1,094,692 hectares. This national park is located in two provinces namely Aceh and North Sumatra Province.

It holds 2 global status as Biosphere Reserve in 1981 and as World Heritage in 2004.

Leuser is a natural laboratory and very rich in biodiversity. This national park is the habitat of most fauna, ranging from mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.

There are 380 species of birds and 205 species of mammals there. Unfortunately, some of its fauna are included in the list of protected animals such as Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris), Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), tapir (Tapiris indicus) and Sumatranus elephant maximus sumatranus.

Leonardo Dicaprio has visited this place in 2016. He expressed his support for "saving the Leuser Ecosystem" through his Twitter account. (

DiCaprio via its Twitter account also endorsed support for the protective measures through a petition to president Joko Widodo through the organization.

In the petition which was written by Dahlan M Isa has been already signed by 80.480 supporters, he puts the reason why we have to take care to Leuser.

“The forest where customary people live for generations is being jeopardized. Our river dried, except when it is flooded and causing landslides. Leuser as the prosperity symbol of Acehnese is under major threat,”wrote Dahlan. (

Gunung Leuser National Park provides water supply for 4 million people living in Aceh Province and North Sumatra Province.

It shows that the role and function of the forest area in Gunung Leuser National Park ecosystem is very big in supporting life support system and sustainable development.

In 2014, the former governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah and representatives of the German government signed a grant agreement worth 9 million Euros or more than Rp 111 billion. (

The funds were given by the German Development Bank (Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau-KfW) dedicated to financing Leuser Ecosystem (KEL) ecosystem programs, a mountainous area with tropical rainforest coverage in central and southern Aceh province.

Post tsunami 2004, Germany became one of Indonesia's partners who pays particular attention to the sustainability of Aceh's development which is harmonized with environmental conservation programs.

So, instead of only celebrating Saman through records, all the dancers are also involved into an effort to save Leuser and protect the future.

Tiara Fatimah

Photo: The performance of Saman which was held at Taman Ratu Safiatuddin, Banda Aceh (taken by Budi Fatria)