Tomb of the Kings of Aceh

Tomb of the Kings of Aceh

In 1874 Aceh succeeded in conquering the Netherlands under the leadership of Van Swieten. Dutch colonial troops began entering the King’s fortress and the Sultan’s Palace area. Upon their arrival they were surprised to find so many luxurious tombs of the royal family of Aceh Darussalam who had ruled the Sultanate of Aceh Darussalam for 350 years. The cemetery is located next to the Krueng Daroy river that transcends the Imperial Palace.

Now the cemetery is still visible and is known as the tomb of Kandang XII. The IX cage is the earliest cemetery complex of Aceh kings located at the Keraton Dormitory about 500 meters from the Baiturrahman mosque. The grave complex was the earliest of the dynasties ever ruling in Aceh. There are 12 tombs, one of which has been identified as the grave of Ali Mughayat Syah dated 1530 AD. He was the first figure to establish the kingdom of Aceh Darussalam. However, not many Acehnese people know these tombs but that is the important evidence of the founder of the Darussalam Kingdom. The Acehnese people are unlikely to be interested in dead objects of historical heritage, especially tombstone. They regard the ancient tombs as a scary thing, where there is a ghost nesting place so rare to visit except only tombs that are considered sacred.

The tombs in the Cage XII Complex are arranged very neatly in a row. All of them are broad-roofed with an iron frame. This restoration was only carried out in 1978, at that time many Acehnese historians were concerned about historical heritage. In the 1900s there was a picture taken by the Dutch colonial army. This tomb complex did not have a roof and there was a large tree beside the tombs. Most of the tombs here are in pretty good condition except only two pieces that have been damaged and only leave the base. The shape of the headstone has many equations which are square in the shape of four sides.

Some tombstones are directly embedded in the ground but others are attached to the Jirat using calligraphy carvings of high artistic value. Each high headstone reaches one meter with very interesting ornate carvings. In 1874 a European researcher Frederick Tierre gave a statement that the number eight gravestone was Sultan Ala Al-ddin Riayat Syah, this gravestone was painted using a bronze layer (KITLV Leiden). From this note it is possible that number eight gravestone is not the only one coated with bronze but almost all gravestones have small holes that may be used as a place to attach bronze or copper metal. Many believe the Dutch invaders had gouged and took the bronze.

Tomb of the Kings of Aceh

In the following years after the first dynasty of Aceh’s kingdom ruled, a mixture of stone and bronze metal was still used in the making of Aceh tombstones. Even the Acehnese stone is made more luxurious by using gold and atmosphere. The proof is when Peter Davis visited Aceh in 1599, the Sultan of Aceh Ala Al-ddin Riayat Syah ordered his minister to make gravestones weighing “at least one thousand golden pounds” to be placed on his own grave. Another proof is a letter from Iskandar Muda to the king of England Jacues, where it is written that Sultan Iskandar Muda had a tomb made of gold (Denis Lombard, 1967: 167).

This is of course to show the greatness of the Kingdom of Aceh to the British and Portuguese kings. The development of making tombs from copper to gold during the time of Sultan Iskandar Muda has demonstrated the greatness and luxury of Acehnese art in the first half of the 17th century AD The development is very clearly stated in Bustanusslatin by Sheikh Nuruddin Ar-Raniry which tells the funeral ceremony of Sultan Iskandar Tsani in 1641 AD .

The following is the quote “When seven days of the late Dar-Assalam deceased died, the sovereign majesty of Sultan Tajul Alam Safiatuddin Syah, the nature of Allah, also gave a decree to the Sida Ngadap leader Raja Udahna Lela” Call us the vocational Batu, Raja Indera Busana! So the king of senses came. So the glorious word “you do, as the king of the seven-square Dar-Salam, is finished, so he did! That my heart has not been done before by kings. Then the king of Nishyan made it with the end of his knowledge, no more being touched like that noble word. Then the noble word of Hadarat to the goldsmiths and clever vocational vocational “You salve the king of nisyan with golden eyes, do not blame the stone chisel and fix the quality of the beads! And some of the jewels, which are of great price, of the kind of gambling, and the jaws and turquoise and zanrud, and the unrivaled thorns and diamonds and manikams are worn on the king of Nisyan. So the loyal King, and King Indera soon and immediately and all the goldsmiths work like the most glorious word.

The record proves that the King of Aceh’s tombstone is indeed coated with bronze, gold, and charm. Even Snouck Hurgronje (1908) stated that Aceh gravestones were made in Pandee Village or Banda Aceh city now. There are still a number of goldsmiths and tombstone sculptors until the end of the 19th century AD. Thus, the tombs of the kings of Aceh and the royal kingdom of Aceh are not just stone graves but there are evidence of the ancient civilization of Aceh. Decorative and carved epigraphy coated with gold revealed the civilization of the ancestors of the Acehnese people who were so advanced.

Tomb of the Kings of Aceh
Tomb of the Kings of Aceh

Nisan Aceh is one of the heritage of Aceh to the next generation. They seemed to know if the Kingdom of Aceh’s civilization would be destroyed in the future so they wrote in the gravestone as historical evidence for their grandchildren later. In addition, Aceh Nisan is a very valuable object not only now but has always been highly valued by Aceh sultans. So it is fitting that we keep together from ignorant hands who want to destroy it. It is not impossible that all Aceh’s culture will be destroyed if we do not guard it. Wallahualam, Hopefully useful.

Comments