Forensic Fashion
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>Costume Studies
>>1873 Achinese 'alim
Subject: 'alim religious warrior
Culture: Achinese
Setting: Dutch war, Aceh 1873-1904

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Holt/Lambton/Lewis 1970 v2A p178-179 (William R Roff, "South-East Asian Islam in the nineteenth century" p155-207)
"The once great sultanate of Acheh, traditionally the most vigorously Islamic of Indonesian powers, had for much of the nineteenth century been in a state of suspended political decline, beset from within by periodic feuds surrounding the throne, and caught up in the commercial struggle being waged by the Western powers for control over the pepper trade of northern Sumatra. ...
    "Under an arrangement made immediately subsequent to the 1824 Treaty of London (by which Britain and Holland staked out their respective areas of influence in the Straits) the Dutch had undertaken to secure the safety of trade with Acheh, while guaranteeing the continued independence of the state.  This arrangement became in the course of time extremely irksome to the Dutch, as they were brought increasingly into conflict with Acheh by their own territorial expansion up the west and especially the east coasts, and as standards of international conduct deteriorated with the scramble for profits which took place around the riverine states in the northern part of the island.  Matters were not helped when Acheh, after renewing in 1850 its ancient relations with the Ottoman empire, sought aid from the Sublime Porte (and other powers) in the 1860s, against Dutch interference in its affairs.  Finally, in 1871, a fresh Anglo-Dutch treaty was concluded which gave the Netherlands a free hand in dealing with this unruly and recalcitrant state.  Attempts at a negotiated settlement of points at issue having failed, the Dutch launched an armed invasion of Kota Raja in April 1873, and the Acheh War began.
    "From an early stage, Achehnese resistance to Dutch aggression assumed the character of a jihād, the prosecution of which came more and more to rest in the hands of those best fitted to organize and lead a Holy War, the independent 'ulama' -- who were, it may be observed, strengthened thereby in their own institutional conflict with the traditional chiefs, increasing in turn the strength of appeals made by Islam."

* Ricklefs 1993 p145
"The Aceh War was a long and bitter struggle.  As the Dutch advanced, bombarding and burning villages, the population fled to the hills and maintained their resistance.  In 1881 the Dutch declared the war to be over, one of the most fanciful pronouncements of colonialism.  The guerilla resistance came to be dominated by religious leaders, the ulamas, among whom the most famous was Teungku Cik di Tiro (1836-91), and the resistance assumed the nature of a Holy War of Muslims against unbelievers."

* Siegel 1979 p229
"In 1873 the Dutch began an invasion of Atjeh as part of the consolidation of their power in the [Indonesian] archipelago.  This began a thirty-five year war.  The Dutch suffered over 2,000 deaths in battle and 10,500 from disease.  Twenty-five thousand impressed workers also lost their lives.  Atjehnese deaths are not known with such precision, but van't Veer estimates that, out of a population of about 750,000, 60,000-70,000 were killed.  In addition, there was great devastation.  It is thought that between 10,000 and 20,000 Atjehnese fled to the Malay Peninsula, while at least 10,000 more became refugees within Atjeh.  Villages were burned and rice irrigation systems destroyed, never to be rebuilt.  During more than thirty-five years of war, Atjeh, once the major world supplier of pepper, lost its dominance in the market.  Thus it was a period in which one out of every eight Atjehnese was killed or displaced and in which the economic base of Atjehnese society was drastically altered."

* Hiejboer 1987 p140
"Al spoeding na het begin van de oorlog zouden de Nederlandse koloniale troepen ervaren dat zij de moedigste, taaiste en limste tegenstanders waren die ze ooit ontmoet hadden."




* Tagliacozzo 2005 p262
"In Aceh, as on the Malay peninsula, European travelers noted that men went about their daily business heavily armed, usually with three or more arms on their person at all times, and more if they were traveling abroad. Some of these personal weapons were firearms, such as Lefaucheux hunting rifles and revolvers."

* Tagliacozzo 2005 p292
"The resident of Sumatra's East Coast complained to the Dutch governor-general that Enfields and other modern firearms could be had at 'spot-prices' in Singapore by local peoples, which certainly seems to have been true, as these rifles were turning up all over Southeast Asia at the time, even in interior Borneo.  The advanced Beaumont rifles being handed out to crew members aboard Dutch blockade ships off Aceh in the 1870s were also appearing, however, in enemy hands, the barrels modified to fit local needs, as Dutch Patrols found out.  American Winchesters were also being used against the two colonial regimes by indigenous populations as well, in Aceh and the Batak highlands in Sumatra, but also by Bugis crews coasting between Singapore and Sulawesi.  Even German Mausers were available in the region, as witnessed by the seizure of 500 of these guns and 500,000 Mauser cartridges that had left Singapore for Luzon in early 1899."

* Pusaka 1992 p216 caption
"Long-barreled guns with an octagonal bore ... were made in the highlands of West Sumatra in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and saw use in the Aceh wars. The technology was introduced to Southeast Asia by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. Similar guns are still used in West Sumatra as hunting pieces. The loading and firing process is extremely laborious; the effective range is between ten and fifteen meters."

* Edgerton 1995 p97
"In the late war with the Dutch the Atchinese used bullets containing some foreign substance such as porcelain, with the view of nullifying the charms which they supposed were possessed by some against bullets of pure lead."  [reference omitted]

Swords (Sikin Panjang, Peudeung, Rudus)

* Draeger 1972 p151-152
"Other Atjeh weapons include the somewhat longer gadubong, the peudeueng and luris pedang, which are similar swords designed to be operated by one hand.  Blade lengths for these weapons range between fifteen to thirty inches.  Swordlike, yet retaining many of the characteristics of the typical Indonesian parang, are the kelewang, the tapak kudak, and the sikim gala.  These long blades, too, are single-edged, averaging about twenty inches in length."

* Gardner 1936 p61
"[T]he term sikim should, theoretically, be restricted to straight one-edged sword blades of even width, of native make.  In Acheh sikim is applied to all swords of the golok type."

* Richardson 2015 p122
"The klewang is a short, single-edged sword popular in Aceh."


* van Zonneveld 2001 p106
A round shield with countless variations.  On the inside we see several rings through which a rope or tape is pulled; through this, one places the left arm, holding on to part of the rope or tape with one's hand.  The interior also has a small cushion to soften the blow on the shield. ...  Characteristic of Aceh shields are the added semi-spherical knobs with a smooth or indented rim (sikureueng dek or limong dek) or star-shaped knobs of brass.  Shields with four, five, six, seven or nine knobs are found.  On rattan shields (peurise awe) we see more elaborate knobs with a broad rim of a jour motif and a circle of tumpals (triangles) with stylised decorations inside them.  If the decoration consists of seven stars, it imitates the tuju bintang (the Pleiades).  The half moon is also found as a decorative motif.  The peurise is carried on the back."

Daggers (Rencong, Siwai)

* Jessup 1991 p 240
"Ownership of the Acehnese dagger, the rencong, and the related siwai was restricted to the Sultan and other members of the royal family and the Hulubalang (in Acehnese, Ulee Balang), territorial leaders.  Its form, clearly influenced by Islamic design, had several variations according to the shape of the grip and the angle of the blade.  Many had enamel inlays and Arabic inscriptions on the grip, usually words from the Koran, signaling the importance of Islam to the warrior ethos of Aceh. ... The rencong has symbolic importance in Aceh that can be compared, on a smaller scale, to the importance of the kris in Java, particularly since the warrior skills of the Acehnese, who were not finally conquered by the Dutch until the late nineteenth century, were a proud heritage long after combat was merely a memory in Java."