A record-breaking 10,000 people turned out in Indonesia‘s Aceh province on Sunday to stage a traditional dance.
The men, clad in elaborate black and yellow traditional costumes, sat in neat rows, clapping their hands on their shoulders and laps and moving in an increasingly fast-paced rhythm to a traditional song.
The saman, or ‘the dance of a thousand hands’, is one of the country’s most popular. In 2011 it was included in the UNESCO list of items of intangible cultural heritage.
10,000 men gathered in Indonesia’s Aceh Province on Sunday in order to perform a saman dance, known as ‘the dance of a thousand hands’, which involves clapping, singing and swaying along to a traditional beat
The men dressed in traditional black, yellow and red outfits for the record-breaking stunt which is aimed at luring tourists into visiting the province, located in the north of Indonesia’s largest island of Java
While the song traditionally contains lyrics about Islamic teachings, this version was modified to sing about the importance of protecting the national park where the event took place
The stunt, which also took place last year, is aimed at increasing tourism in Aceh, a province which is best known for its application of Sharia Law and frequent public whippings which take place there
The event was aimed at attracting more visitors to the province the head of local tourism agency, Syafruddin, said.
The men, mostly from the ethnic Gayo community, made occasional wave-like movements without breaking formation.
Their song focused on the importance of protecting the province’s Mount Leuser National Park, home to rare Sumatran tigers and elephants, which is threatened by rampant poaching and rainforest destruction due to the expansion of palmoil plantations.
Thousands of spectators flocked to an open field tucked amid lush green hills in Gayo Lues district to watch the performance.
The Indonesian Museum of Record certified it as breaking a national record with 10,001 participants – beating last year’s record of 6,600.
The dance is usually accompanied by a song performed in unison. It emphasises teamwork, a symbol of unity.
‘In the old days the lyrics were usually about spreading Islamic teachings. These days we can adjust the lyrics to deliver any message we wish to convey to the audience,’ Syafruddin said.
Aceh’s international image has been tarnished by its public punishments under Sharia law, such as caning for homosexuality.
‘I am very impressed with the performance, the dancers synchronised very well and it makes me proud as an Indonesian. It was incredible,’ Sarah, a visitor from Jakarta, told AFP.
In total 10,001 people were recorded as taking part in the event, which easily surpassed last year’s total of 6,600, according to the Indonesian Museum of Record
In 2011 UNESCO declared the saman dance and item of intangible cultural heritage at the request of the Acehnese people, meaning it is vital to understanding their way of life
Their song focused on the importance of protecting the province’s Mount Leuser National Park, home to rare Sumatran tigers and elephants, which is threatened by rampant poaching and rainforest destruction
Acehnese men take part in a saman dance in Mount Leuser National Park as part of a public relations push for the region
Sarah, a visitor from Jakarta, said: ‘I am very impressed with the performance, the dancers synchronised very well and it makes me proud as an Indonesian. It was incredible’