HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF SUMATRAN DANCING
the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese dances, described above, sumatran
dancing too has developed in the course of time, accordance with
the development of the society supporting it.
on the social structure of Indonesian in general and the social
structure of Sumatran in particular, the development or history
of Sumatran dancing can also be divided into three periods, the
primitive period, the feudal period and the modern period.
the period of Primitive Society, up to about 400 A.D., the features,
form and nature of dances in the whole of Indonesia can be said
to have been the same. The form of the dances was very simple, their
nature holy or sacred and democratic in accordance with the form
and nature of the Indonesian society of that time.
the period of Feudal Society, however, the development of dancing
in Sumatra was a bit different in comparison with that of Java and
Bali. As the reader knows, the influence of Hindu culture on Java
and Bali was very great, so that in spite of the penetration of
Islam in the 15th century, Hindu culture still made its influence
felt, and greatly affected the development of dancing in Java and
Bali. In short, the development of dancing in Java and Bali during
the feudal period, from 400 A.D. to 1945 was mostly still Hindu
in essence, that is Hindu adapted to the indentity of the Indonesian
the beginning of the period of Feudal Society the Sumatran kingdoms
were "Hindu in nature. The greatest Hindu-Indonesian kingdom
in Sumatra, the Buddhist kingdom of Sriwijaya, was once the centre
of development of Hindu science and culture.
Islam entered Sumatra at the end of the 13th century, however, the
elements of Hindu culture began to disappear gradually. Considering
that in Sumatra elements of Hindu culture disappeared, whereas in
Java and Bali they retained, the reader may ask whether there was
a fundamental difference between the nature of society in Sumatra
and that of Java and Bali. There is no fundamental difference, but
there are certain features of the social structure of Sumatra which
differentiate it from Java and Bali.
geographical situation of Sumatra caused a great difference between
its social fife and that of Java and Bali. During the feudal period
agriculture was considered more important in Java and Bali, whereas.
is Sumatra, because of the favourable position of the island, the
importance of trade was emphasized. The group of free and independent
merchants welcomed Islam as the religion which suited their way
of life. Islam did not recognize the existence of classes in society
and could be embraced by anyone and anywhere. The democratic nature
of Islam caused it to penetrate quickly into the spiritual life
of the Sumatrans, who felt that the Hindu religion was not longer
suitable for them. Gradually the elements of Hindu culture became
weaker and weaker and then disppeared altogether.
conversion to Islam exercised a great influence on the, development
of culture, especially dancing, in Sumatra. Little, by little dancing
took on the essence and spirit of Islam and the Hindu. element disappeared.