Atjeh – Shields: Peurise Awe & Teumaga

Part of the standard equipment for an Aceh warrior was the shield. Two basic types existed the Peurise Awe and the Peurise Teumaga.

The Peurise Awe was a round shield made of rattan and decorated with brass stars. The number of stars on the rattan shield are most often either 5 or 7.

Peurise awe with 7 stars

J. Klein Nagelvoort, Researcher and Author of the book “Toean Stammeshaus” gives some insight with his research on Aceh weapons. According to Stammeshaus the 7 stars are meant for military leaders or in the Aceh language Panglima’s and the version with 5 stars for regular warriors. If this is true is unkown but the 7 star version seems at least as frequent as the 5 star versions.

In place of the stars it could also be adorned with round pieces of brass with a starlike form within the circle and only a regular star in the middle.

Photo from internet – collection of the Dutch Military Academy – note the shield with round pieces of copper.
Shield of the same style as in the picture above.

Many small variations existed like pointed stars for example.

Aceh warrior with Blunderbuss and shield (peurisse awe) with pointed stars. Photo from internet.

For use in war the shields were often covered inside and outside with either dark cloth or red cloth. Many nails were then added to keep the cloth in place.

Photo from internet/Facebook – it seems to be a group of noblemen from Aceh based on the attire.

Shield covered in dark cloth and with many “nails” as discussed above.

The Peurise Teumaga is a brass shield also adorned with either stars or more often round pieces of brass. These shields are very plain and simple but effective. They generally have a rim that is pointed outwards. The enitre shield is made of hammered massive brass and will have concentric circles engraved.

Front and back of a Peurise Teumaga with the original cushion and handles.

Again J. Klein Nagelvoort, Researcher and Author of the book “Toean Stammeshaus” mentions that according to Stammeshaus and his research the brass shields were only used only by the direct followers of the Sultan of Aceh. These are always small in size, around 30cm and relatively rare!

This would mean the brass shield are relatively old, so from the 19th century, practically from before 1874 where the rattan versions were still in use in the early 20th century.

Photo from the Toean Stammeshaus exhibition and book by J. Klein Nagelvoort. Photo found on:

Heavy brass shield, Peurise Teumaga, of the same type as top left in the Stammeshaus picture.

Peurise Teumaga, compare with the top right shield in the large photo above which is very similar.

An excerpt from the writings of Stammeshaus describing two shields from the large group picture above.

The often seen cast brass shields or other types with many decorations are not Aceh shields as they are often described as. These come from the more Southern parts of Sumatra (Minang Kabau) and are not meant for war at all, they can be considered tourist pieces from the first half of the 20th century! These are also often called dancing shields for performances. As the are cast they break quite easily and many examples have parts broken off. You will never see a picture a Aceh warriors with this type of shield!

Minang Kabau, cast brass shield. This type of shield is not from Aceh and not meant for actual fighting. These are basically tourist pieces. Picture from internet.

Another variation are wooden shields. Although wooden shields did exist most examples seen today are tourist pieces and totally unfit for actual use in combat. I have not an original example in my collection.

There are many more variations and also sizes can be very different. Kreemer writes that shields in the Gajo area are generally larger e.g. ( J. Kreemer, Atjéh, 1922).

See also my other blogs regarding Aceh peudeung, status rencong and sirihcloth.

Atjeh – Sirihdoek (buidel) accessoires

KNIL militairen verzamelden vaak de lokale etnografica om een beter beeld te krijgen van de bevolking en de plaatselijke gebruiken beter te begrijpen. Zo komt er een grote diversiteit aan materiaal uit het voormalige Nederlands Indië in Nederlandse musea en in particuliere verzamelingen. De regio Atjeh in Noord Sumatra was een groot deel van de koloniale tijd in oorlog met de Nederlandse koloniale bezetters dus er was een constante aanwezigheid van KNIL militairen in deze regio. Daarom zijn er uit deze specifieke regio ook veel wapens en andere etnografica in collecties.

De sirihbuidel zoals deze gedragen werd. In dit geval met een bos schijnsleutels als tegengewicht. Fotofragment collectie Tropenmuseum.

Een heel specifiek gebruik in Noord Sumatra was de sirihbuidel die door Atjehse mannen gedragen werd. Hierin werden de toebehoren bewaard die nodig waren voor het gebruik van de Sirih, die gepruimd werd. Het was ook een optie om status (sociaal en financieel) aan te duiden.

Typische geruite Sirihdoek met schijnsleutels en Gayo zilveren/suassa sierpunt!

Het boek van J. Kreemer, Atjéh uit 1922 (deel I) geeft een goede beschrijving van deze buidel en haar gebruik:

Een fragment van Plaat VIII uit het boek met 2 voorbeelden van een sirihdoek

In mijn verzameling bevind zich een fraaie selectie varianten van de deze instrumentensetjes. Zonder context zullen weinig mensen herkennen waar het hier om gaat waardoor ze ook moeilijk te vinden zijn en relatief zeldzaam. Instrumenten als oorsmeerlepels, neushaarpincetten en tandenstokers maar ook voor mij onbekende attributen.

Een drietal sirihsetjes komen uit de nalatenschap van KNIL majoor Picard.

Typische Atjeh set waarbij de twee neushaar pincetten voorzien zijn van blauw emaille. Daarnaast een zilveren sirih doosje en aan één punt een typische hanger (sierpunt) die vaak aan alle punten van de sirihdoek bestonden.
Deze set lijkt wat zuidelijker van Atjeh te zijn, mogelijk zelfs Minang maar komt ook uit de Picard nalatenschap.
Set met een sirih en kalkdoosje in zilver met kleine lepeltjes als toebehoren.

Daarnaast zijn er nog een aantal losse setjes zonder provenance maar is de kans natuurlijk groot dat ook deze door KNIL militairen naar Nederland gebracht zijn.

De setjes zijn allen van zilverkleurig materiaal waarbij sommige setjes echt zilver lijken te zijn en sommige van een soort alpaca achtig materiaal. Varianten met emaille zijn extra zeldzaam en ook daarvan zijn er enkele varianten in mijn collectie.

Twee soortgelijke setje waarbij ook groen en blauw emaille gebruikt is. Dit zijn typische Atjehse sets uit de 19e eeuw tot heel vroege 20e eeuw.

Nog een typische Atjeh set, wat groter en grover en zonder emaille.
Een wat fijner setje in zilver met daarin twee instrumenten die in de andere sets niet voorkomen
Groep Atjehse mannen met meerdere sirihdoeken. Foto KITLV

Zie ook mijn blogs over een Atjehse peudeung en status rentjongs.

KNIL – Major A. Picard, Atjeh items

Most etnographical items in Dutch collections do not have a historical background story, provenance. These stories are often lost over time so that is an extra reason for writing down these blogs.

These items were collected during the career of Major A. Picard of the Dutch East Indies Army. He was born in 1850, between the early 1870s and 1898, his pension date, he rose throught the ranks to the status of Major. After his pension he returned to the Netherlands and passed away in 1905. For one of his actions he received an Honorable Mention (Mention is Despatches) which was the 2nd highest acknowledgement for gallantry after the Military Order of William. He spent his entire career in Norhtern Sumatra (Atjeh region during the long lasting wars there).

The collecting of etnographical items was popular amongst officers and even promoted by higher ranking officers. Looting was not accepted (which does not mean it did not happen) but collecting/buying was seen as an investment in a better understanding of the local population as was the learning of the local language.

His complete collection was handed down in the family several times until the last family member deceased in the early 2000s. An antiques dealer bought the entire contents of the house and sold them off.

Photo of how the items were found by the antiques dealer.

A friend was able to buy the medals and paperwork and I bought several etnographical items. You can match them with the photo above!

Despite the handkerchiefs these are all items for Atjehnese men, for tobacco, sirih and chalk or toiletries (tool sets with items like ear wax spoons, nose hair clippers and tooth picks) for the men of that region.

Atjeh – noble saber (Peudeuëng)

Next to the very distinctive Sikin and Rencong from Aceh there is another weapon that is directly linked to Aceh but only for those of noble status and in the status variation (so with gold and diamonds) only for those closely connected to the Sultan of Aceh.

Longer weapons of all kinds were named pedang in Indonesia. On Sumatra in the Aceh region the local name was Peudeuëng which was used only for an extra long type of sabre in the Indian Tulwar style.

The noble (status) variation has a few very distinctive differences, The steel handle has a woven (teurhat) silver cover (kabat). The style of weaving can help determine the age but they are basically all 19th century or earlier. The top of the handle has a gold cover (crown) which in this case has also rough diamonds (inten) and enamel work as often seen on status rencong and sikins.

One of the most famous versions of this weapon is the version of Teukeu Umar that is currently in the Bronbeek collection. That version also has a golden cover of the entire handle which signifies an even higher status!

Photo of Teukeu Umar and his followers with behind him a status Peudeung and many other notable status weapons (photo from the collection of the Tropenmuseum, taken from Wikipedia).

The blades are often longer than 80cms (total length around 100 cms) and always flexible in a high quality damascus steel. Probably most often if not always the blades are imported.

High quality, flexible blade with multiple grooves making it lighter and stronger!

This example came from the collection of Karsten Sjer Jensen (writer of the famous Krisdisk). If the number 8 which can be seen both on the handle and the sheath was put there by him is unknown.

Number 8 on handle and sheath

The entire quality of blade, handle and goldwork make these weapons very rare and collectable today!

See also my blogs about rencong and sirih, also Aceh historical items!

Sources: Catalogus Museum Bronbeek, Het verhaal van Indie, deel 1

Atjeh & Gajo – Status Rencong

In this blog I want to show some detailed photo’s of the quality of workmanship in these status weapons! Remember the golden crowns are rare, maybe only 1 in a 100 examples have these….

Aceh rencong with golden crowns

An overview of 4 rencong, probably all 19th century pieces with the original sheaths on three of them. Short description from left to right and top to bottom:

  • Handle is made of “white” buffalo horn as opposed to the more common dark horn. Enamel of the crowns is of very high quality.
  • Handle made of Akar Bahar, root of the sea, which is very brittle and probably the rarest handle material. The back part therefore also of gold with a diamond (inten) on top. A very high status item.
  • Handle of dark horn and smooth as opposed to the first and last handle. Top of the metal also has very nice gold inlays.
  • Dark buffalo handle and the biggest size rencong of these four with some old battle damage and likely the oldest of these.

Note that the bottom two crowns have a very high quality of enamel and the top two ones hardly have any enamel.

Gayo status rencong with silver and (marine) ivory

In the Gayo region the use of silver was more common on status pieces. Also the use of marine ivory (dandan) was quite common. Also the first metal part often has an overlay in copper or suassa.

The first has an unusual size, the longest of all seven rencong in this blog. Also the combination of ivory, silver crowns and suassa overlay is remarkable. Probably of ritual meaning or very high status.

The second is a more standard Gayo status rencong with brass overlay and only ivory on the handle. Both have the typical blood groove that is more or less standard on Gayo made pieces.

The third seems to be a Aceh made piece for the Gayo region. The use of a full silver handle with suassa details and the sheath hint at Gayo use but the quality of workmanship hint at Aceh. An interesting cross cultural rencong.

Input and help in determining age and details of these rencong is more than welcome, please contact me with additional info!

See also my blogs about a peudeung and sirih, also Aceh historical items!