Language: Indonesian
Source: Period accounts

Description

Sikin panjang is the most widely accepted name for a sword used in northern Sumatra, but it goes by many different local names. It was prevalent mostly in Aceh and Gayo and to some extent also Alas and the Batak area.1

It is a single-edged straight sword with parallel back and edge, the edge abruptly turning up towards the end. The hilt is usually of horn, made with a downward curve and with a characteristic forked end.

Sikin panjang

A very nice sikin panjang with triple golden crown, and its scabbard.

 

Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, a scholar of Oriental cultures & Advisor on Native Affairs to the Dutch East Indies writes:

"Persons of position or those who are going on a journey carry in addition the Achehnese sword which is the ordinary weapon used in fighting. It is of uniform width from end to end, and is placed in a sheath." 2

 

Retinue with swords

Men and children from the retinue of an Acehnese uleebalang.
Notice the rencong and sikin panjang.

 

Golden crowns

Some of the better sikin panjang have a golden "crown" at the base of the blade called puco when it has rounded ends and glupa when it is pointed. The latter seem to have been used mainly on the northeastern coast of Aceh.

glupa-puco

Glupa (left) with pointed ends and puco (right) with rounded ends.

 

Significance of the crown

These crowns come in anywhere from one to four tiers, their number seems to be connected with rank. Sets of crowned sikin panjang and rencong were presented by the Sultan to uleebalang (local lords) and other dignitaries. Simpler versions were presented by the uleebalang to panglima prang (temporary military commanders).3

The lowest rank to be allowed to wear the sikin panjang and rencong with golden glupa are the panglima prang. Their weapons typically have a single-tiered crown. We know that the Sultan of Aceh had weapons with four crowns.4 That leaves two to three crowns for important people in-between, like the uleebalang.

 

 

Notable pieces

One piece turned up with a lengthy inscription:

Sikin panjang markings

A sikin panjang formerly in the collection of Gustav Friedrichson.
Photo courtesy of Gustav Friedrichson.

Translation:

"Happy is the one who wielded Teuku Katimah, this sikin heirloom,
as protection
[for] himself in each battle,
which finished
[being made] at 28, 8th month,
year
[unreadable] Hijri." 5

 

 

Notes
1. A. van Zonneveld: Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago. C. Zwartenkot Art Books, Leiden, 2001. Pages 124-125.
2. Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, The Acehnese, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1906.
3. Ibid. Page 93.
4. F. Brinkgreve & R. Sulistianingsih (editors), Sumatra: Crossroads of Cultures, KITLV Press, 2009. Page 127.
5. Donny Winardi of Surabaya. Personal communication.

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