Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tor-tor dance and Gordang Sambilan to be part of Malaysian heritage

Malaysians are made up of many cultures, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, Malay and the latter is again subdivided into various cultures including those from Indonesia, i.e., Minangkabau, Bugis, Javanese, Sunda, Kalimantan and Pontianak, Mandaling, etc.

Recently, Malaysia gazetted as national heritage the Mandailing community’s Tor-tor dance and the Gordang Sambilan (nine great drumbeats). This has outraged some groups in Indonesia resulting in protests at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta.

The protests worsened last Friday as several sections of the Malaysia Hall building were damaged by large stones hurled by about 50 rioters.

According to The Star/Bernama,

Non-governmental organisation Pancasila Youths, who earlier torched the Malaysian flag and hurled eggs in the compound of the Malaysian Embassy in Kuningan after Friday prayers, headed for Malaysia Hall in Jalan Hos Cokroaminoto, Menteng and began acting more violently.

At Malaysia Hall, they attacked a security guard, who sustained slight injuries, threw large stones and pieces of wood which shattered the warden's windows, apart from damaging the main gate and messing up the windows by hurling eggs.

The stones thrown by the rioters also damaged the front roof of Malaysia Hall.

Malaysia Information, Communications and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, said every community was entitled to the freedom to adopt its culture of origin and the Tor-tor dance and gendang besar (great drum) were not owned by anybody, as stated in the Geneva Convention.

“The United Nations guarantees freedom to a community to adopt their original culture and way of life,” he said when commenting on the Indonesian media protest over his proposal to gazette the Mandailing’s dance and drumbeat as national heritage.

“The people of Malaysia, who inherited original cultures of the archipelago for decades and centuries, deserve to maintain their culture of origin.


Let's leave politics to the politicians and take a look at what the Tor-tor dance and the Gordang Sambilan (nine great drumbeats) are all about.

Tari tortor batak (Indonesian dance)

Traditional Drum of Mandailing Culture (GORDANG SAMBILAN)


  1. I taught the boru's (young maidens) from mlysia the dance..I infused some malay cultural dance steps to it but the name remained authentic...little did i know that i became an issue..regardless I am proud that I managed to pull the show thru...sad n art is an art no matter how we express it..

  2. Aww... But no matter. Keep up the good work.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I think that the Malaysians made the wrong move when adding the two traditions to their National Cultural Heritage, even if it was just to satisfy the Mandailing people’s plea to let their cultures be shown of in the country. A simple law to let the traditions be shown would have sufficed, and it would have helped avoid the origin of this cultural dispute and also avoid the escalation of the bigger cultural dispute that has been going on between Malaysia and Indonesia for a while. I really think that the protests in the Malaysian embassy were unnecessary though, and more peaceful diplomacy would be better in order to solve the problem.