Show Of Fighting Elephants in Aceh: A Note from the British Explorers.

Show Of Fighting Elephants in Aceh

The record of the Kingdom of Aceh was very much written by Europeans who had visited or traded in Aceh. They mostly told about Aceh only from what they saw, causing misunderstandings in the writing of History. Most of the European explorers did not understand Islam and Acehnese culture so they judged unilaterally. For example Agustin de Baullieu, a merchant from France who wrote the bad side of the Aceh government system, when he considered Sultan Iskandar Muda to be very cruel. Even though the Sultan only carried out Islamic Sharia in Aceh.

Show Of Fighting Elephants in Aceh
Show Of Fighting Elephants in Aceh

But there are also some records of European explorers who are a little more familiar with Acehnese culture known to religious communities. They include Peter Mundy, he is an explorer from England. Peter Mundy visited Aceh on April 22 – May 2, 1637 M. The explorer’s visit was only a few months after the death of Sultan Iskandar Muda Perkasa Alam. There were many things he wrote in his notebook even though he only stayed for a while in Aceh. His arrival coincided with the feast of Eid al-Adha 10 Zulhijjah 1046 Hijri or coincided with 26 April 1637 Masihi. The celebration of Eid al-Adha according to Mundy’s record is very important in the Aceh calendar even though there are still celebrations of Eid al-Fitr and the Birthday of the Prophet which are also considered important there.

Show Of Fighting Elephants in Aceh

The celebration of Eid al-Adha was attended by important people in the kingdom of Aceh. Since morning, thousands of people have come to a field near the mosque that has been prepared. Various large flags and national flags of Aceh have been installed along the road to welcome the arrival of the Sultan. Next came an elephant army with a small tower building on its back. Each tower is guarded by a soldier with a spear in his hand.

Then came a number of elephants with a small tower on his back in four rows. Each elephant has been covered with cloth from the head to the feet of those supported by Bamboo. The elephant can only be seen foot, eyes, and trunk. Each elephant each has a soldier on top equipped with arrows, arrows, javelins and small shields.

After that came a group of soldiers armed with very long spears, each carrying a small flag. Then came the eunuch (Minister of the kingdom) using a bareback horse. Each had a long gloved golden sword on his shoulders. In front of the king brought a large number of golden umbrellas and flags. Then came King Sultan Iskandar Tsani who sat on a large and handsome Elephant who was decorated with luxurious decorations and his body was covered with cloth. He sits on top of a stop there, luxury on it has a dome made of gold. Some musical instruments such as drums, trumpets, and gongs are played when the king comes out.

The parade was very crowded and attended by Acehnese who wished to perform Eid al-Adha prayers. After the king passed there were more guards equipped with arrows and small shields. After performing the Eid Al-Adha Prayer the King gives 500 buffaloes to sacrifice. The sacrifice was directly led by the sultan by slaughtering the first buffalo and the rest continued by the officers. The sacrificial meat was distributed to the people.

The next day April 27, 1637 Peter Mundy attended an elephant fighting show on the same field. When he arrived, the Sultan had sat on a high stop or the main stage. Within a little distance, there were around 150 large elephants standing on one line, their heads lowered and formed a circular arena, while the other elephants fought inside the arena. The elephants pitted will immediately run and invade their opponents, they attack each other with ivory, butting, struggling so they urinate in battle. When one of the elephants has lost and surrendered, the handler is unable to separate them so that 200 people are needed to pull the elephant. In one day there were around 10 to 11 pairs of elephants fighting, some of which appeared extraordinary until the two tusks were broken and injured. Sometimes one of the elephants being fought so that their opponents chase and attack from the side or back.

Show Of Fighting Elephants in Aceh

The Kingdom of Aceh is known to have very many elephants, reportedly Sultan Iskandar Tsani has 1,000 elephants. The size of elephants in Aceh is very large even Peter Mundy has never seen elephants in other places as large as those in Aceh. Elephant size in Aceh up to 3.9 meters high. It was the biggest elephant Mundy had ever seen. Furthermore, Mundy said that elephants were one of the most powerful and very useful animals in Aceh. In addition to elephants, there are also buffaloes and sheep mundy, telling the Sultan to give a buffalo gift to the captain of his ship, John Weddell, all of his men could not destroy the buffalo so they were forced to tie it and roll it upside down and slaughter it. That is a piece of the story of Peter Mundy’s trip which was published in London in 1919. Hopefully it will be useful. Pulau Penang, January 18, 2018.

Show Of Fighting Elephants in Aceh

Sumber : The travel of Peter mundy in Europe and Asia 1608-1667 Vol III (disunting Richard C Temple 1919, London: Hakluyt Society Hlaman.121-131

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