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Court Art and Culture



The region of Serdang Sultanate is eminent in cultural arts or commonly known over the name of court art and culture of Malay Serdang. There are many types of art, such as Malay dances, Malay music, and various carvings and ornaments. Here is an example of those arts. 

The Art of Malay Dances

Serampang XII Dance

Serampang XII Dance is one of the traditional Malay dances evolved in Serdang Sultanate. This kind of social dances concerns with good and righteous messages in the love story between one young couple. At first, this dance was called Pulau Sari Dance, in accordance with the its accompanying title track song, “Pulau Sari”.

Serampang XII Dance was created by Guru Sauti in the 1940s, and composed again by its creators in 1950-1960. In addition to composing Serampang XII Dance, he also composed several other dances, such as Triad Dance which consists of Senandung Dance featured Kuala Deli song, Mak Inang Dance featured Mak Inang Pulau Kampai song, and Lagu Dua Dance featured Tanjung Katung song. Serampang Dance XII had become National dance on Soekarno’s request, the first President of the Republic of Indonesia.

Initially, Serampang XII Dance should only be performed by men for the prohibition against women appearing in public performance (taboo). However, as time goes on, Serampang XII Dance finally gives space for women and then played in pairs between men and women.

Besides in North Sumatra, Serampang XII Dance is also widely accepted and developed in several other areas, such as Riau, Jambi, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, even up to Maluku. Moreover, the dance is often taken abroad as one of the cultural missions, which has been brought to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

The dance refers to the twelve varieties of movements which tell about the stages from finding mate until the stages of marriage. Twelve varieties of Serampang XII dance are as follows:

Variety I is beginning dance, a movement which begins with a circular motion while jumping up and jumping down describes the first meeting between boy and girl. This movement tells of meeting between two young people who are still in curious and shy to each other.

Variety II is walking dance, a movement which is done with small run, make spin and turn to its original position symbolizes the love is growing between two beings. This variety tells the story growing sense of love between two hearts, but they are still not dared to confess.

Variety III is dizzy dance, a movement which is showing a circular motion symbolizes love is being harbored. In this dance seem girl and boy are increasingly meet each other, thus making their love to be more blossomed. However, they still hold it without being able to confess it. This movement describes the anxiety on both of them.

Variety IV is crazy dance, a movement which is seem like drunken man symbolizes two lovers in deep love. On this variety, the movement is played by sway and stagger like a drunken man. In this part, the process of soul meeting has deepen with suppressed feeling of love that never goes out.

Variety V is walking swaying dance, a movement which is done by walking and swaying as giving a sign of love. In this variety, female tries to express her fondness and love by giving cues to the male, that is by following male’s movement. This movement is often called crazy movement.

Variety VI is goncek dance, namely the movement of dance depicts some attitude that symbolizes the sign of acceptance from the a young couple who are being fall in love. In this variety, the male tries to catch the signal given by the female by moving his one hand. Then they dance with one same rhythm.

Variety VII is one foot dance, a movement which is begun by moving one foot (right or left) as a symbol of thought. This illustrates the agreement of accepting the signal given by each other. From these cues they had been convinced to continue their story to the stage of marriage. After the pledge is spoken, the romance couple returned home.

Variety VIII is three steps surged back and forth dance, a movement which is performed by surging forward-backward as a symbol of convincing (still believe). This movement is done by jumping three times back and forth. The couple, who have been promised each other, tried to convince to permeate and enter the next stage. The Dance movement is performed happily, which describes two lovers joking and laughing to each other before entering the next stage, to the introduction between both families of young couple.

Variety IX is soaring dance, a movement which is performed with soaring symbolizes an answer. It describes the efforts of young couple to ask for blessing from both sides of parents to accept their chosen partner. Both young people are pounding while on the waiting for an answer and the blessing of their parents.

Variety X is came to visit dance, a movement which is performed with approaching to each other symbolizes the proposal process. Once the certainty of the answer and the blessing of both parents, then male makes an initiative to propose her. This is for the holy bond under the name of marriage.

Variety XI is assorted street dance, which shows street dance  movement symbolizes the process of the bride to the altar. Once the proposal was accepted, the family will hold wedding ceremony. The movement is usually performed with cheerful shades as an expression of gratitude for merging of two lovers who have long romantic story to the marriage happily.

Variety XII is the handkerchief dance, a movement which is performed using the handkerchief as a symbol of two hearts that have been merged to one bond of marriage. In this variety, the dance motion is carried with blend handkerchief describes the young couple is ready to build a home, without being able to be separated in both happy and difficult circumstances.

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