The Achenese Peudeueng

The Long Sword of Aceh Sumatra

By John T. Crosby

 

Aceh (also referred to as Atjeh, Atjin, Acheen Achin.) is at the northern tip of Sumatra in Indonesia. It is believed to be one of the oldest kingdoms in Indonesia. Hindu and Buddist influence from India may have reached Aceh as early as the first century. sixth century A.D. Chinese chronicles. spoke of a kingdom on the northern tip of Sumatra named Po-Li. It is believed that Islam likely first entered the Indonesian archipelago through Aceh sometime between the 8th and 12th century. In 1292, Marco Polo, on his epic voyage from China visited Sumatra on his way to Persia and reported that in the northern part of the island there were at least six busy trading ports including Perlak, Samudera and lambri. With a past like this it is not surprising that their weapons have Hindu, Buddist, Chinese and Islamic influence. The area has an extensive martial history. In the middle of the 14th century, Pasai was invaded by Majapahit soldiers from Java. In 1523, Sultan Ali attacked the Portuguese in Pasai, killing Portugal military commander Horge de Brito. Sultan Ali managed to drive the Portuguese troops out of Pasai. After this defeat, Portugal attempted to conquer Aceh several times, without success. In 1873, the Netherlands declared war and invaded Aceh Darussalam. But the Dutch found it more difficult than they expected to gain control of the whole of Aceh. The Acehnese resisted the occupation, touching off the Aceh War, the longest colonial/expeditionary war fought by the Dutch and claiming more than 10,000 lives. Aceh-Dutch war dragged on until 1914, resistance continued with smaller groups until 1942 when the Japanese arrived in the Dutch East Indies. It has often been said that the Sultanate of Aceh from the 16th century on was in continual struggle. Although a multitude of edged weapons are used in Aceh there are 3 primary weapons that have played a role in Aceh’s history. They are the rencong, Siwaih ( Siwah, Sewar, Siwar) and peudeueng. This article will deal with the peudeueng. As I gain more imformation this will be updated and more sword types may be added. Nothing in this should be considered new or original work on my part. Instead this is a compilation of what so many people have been kind enough to share with me, and what published material I have been able to access. I am certain there are inaccuracies here that are the result of honest mistakes. They will be corrected as I am made aware of them or find better information. That is one large advantage a web based article has. Unlike the published word wich can only be as good as the information at the time of publishing; the web based article can be udated and changed.

 

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES, on May 6th, 1873, wrote: "A sanguinary battle has taken place in Aceh, a native Kingdom occupying the Northern portion of the island of Sumatra. The Dutch delivered a general assault and now we have details of the result. The attack was repulsed with great slaughter. The Dutch general was killed, and his army put to disastrous flight. It appears, indeed, to have been literally decimated."

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Aceh long sword is called the peudeung. While these swords are attributed to the Aceh it is almost certain they were used also by other ethnic groups in the area. There is evidence of its use as a weapon at least as far back as the 17th century. It may have been used singly, with dual swords or with a small round shield called a peurise. It should be noted that these swords are also often called by other names. In the very complete reference book, TRADITIONAL WEAPONS OF THE INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO. by A.G. Van Zonneveld they are referred to as a "Pedang I" "Sikin Pasangan" and" Sikin Panjang" Numerous other sources including Dominique Buttin's excellent site call it a "Sikin" ( Sikim , Sikkim, Sekem ). In a correspondence with Dominique Buttin, he informed the that, "The name Peudeung means sword, which is the same meaning as Podang from the Batak or Pedang from the Javanese." A major problem with deciding which name to use for these swords comes from the fact that there are 10 subethnic groups of acehnesse (such as Aceh , Gayo, Alas, Aneuk Jamee, Melayu Tamiang, Kluet, Devayan, Sigulai, Haloban and Julu ) Here I will use the term used in the most of the Dutch sources and that is "Peudeueng" . A review of the literature seems to divide peudeueng by blade style and type if hilt. The straight bladed swords are called peudeueng panjang ( sikin panjang, sikin pandjang, loedjo Aceh, ). Curved blades peudeueng are called peudeueng peusangan ( peudeueng pasangan , sikin peusangan, sikin pasagan, pedang, poedeung ).