Zapin Dance, Acculturation Malay Culture and Art

During cross-continental trade, around beginning 16th century, Arab merchants brought this art and introduced it to people around the Straits of Malacca.

IPHEDIA.com - Zapin dance, a traditional Riau dance which is considered as fruit of the acculturation of Arabic culture and Malay culture in the past. This dance is a paired dance that is staged in a variety of folk entertainment events.

Not only in Riau, zapin dance is also known by some Malay people who spread across islands to cross countries, such as Kalimantan, Sumatra, Malaysia, Singapore, to Brunei Darussalam.

Popularly, zapin dance in the Malay community is inseparable from the entertainment and aesthetic value of each of its movements. Following IPHEDIA.com review about the complete values ​​of this dance along with its history, movements, and elements.

The History Zapin Dance

If traced from its history, zapin dance actually starts from a special dance for the palace in the Sultanate of Yemen, Middle East in the past. Name zapin itself comes from word "Zafn" which in Arabic means fast motion.

During cross-continental trade, around beginning 16th century, Arab merchants brought this art and introduced it to people around the Straits of Malacca. This dance then began to experience acculturation with local culture through the insertion of Malay values ​​and norms in each of its movements.

Themes and Meanings of Philosophy

Every zapin dance movement actually contains philosophical values ​​that are closely related to the lifestyle of the Malay people. Although its origin is only an entertainment dance, in its development this dance has also become an icon cultural progress Riau Malay community. The thick teaching is born through the existence of educational and religious values ​​that are deliberately inserted in the poems accompaniment of this dance.

Zapin Dance Movement

The zapin Malay dance movement is divided into 3 main parts, namely the opening motion (salam), core motion, and closing motion (tahto). In retrospect, the three main sections are further divided into 19 movements.

The 19 movements, including the opening respectful motion, worship gesture, regular alip motion, alip motion, dizzy motion, spare elbow motion, sud reverse motion, burst motion eight, sud reverse motion, burst motion eight, stretching motion, motion so dizzy, the motion of tongkah, the motion of broken chickens, the motion of noise, the motion of breaking eight suds, the motion of asking for the throne, the motion of the throne, and ending with the gesture of worship again.

Zapin Dance Accompaniment


There are 2 elements that accompany the zapin dance performance. Both of them are musical instruments and Malay poems sung as moral messages.

Especially for zapin dance which is purely derived from Arabic culture, there are only 2 musical instruments used to accompany it, namely Marwas and Gambus. While zapin dance which has undergone acculturation and development is often performed with an orchestra accompaniment of several musical instruments, such as gambus, accordion, tambourine, drum, guitar, and marwas.

The song poems that are sung accompany this dance, generally songs created by Tengku Mansor such as Ya Salam songs, Gambus Palembang, Tanjung Serindit, Sri Pekan, Yale-Yale, Lancang Kuning, and Lancang Daik.

Before the song created by Tengku Mansor existed, zapin dance was often accompanied by songs that had existed for a long time, such as Pulut Hitam, Fate Yellow Lancang, Bismillah, Lancing Balai, Broken Chicks, Sanaah, Saying Sarawak, Original Zapin, Gendang Rebana, and others. These songs are the source of moral messages in zapin dance performances.

Stage Setting

The Zapin dance before the 1960s was actually only allowed to be performed by men in groups. However, as its development, this dance was born into several versions. One of the most popular is for example the paired dance between male dancers and female dancers. In show itself, the number of dancers in one stage is unlimited.

Makeup and Clothing

Zapin dancers are made in such a way that they look attractive, beautiful and handsome. In terms of fashion, the men wore Malay traditional clothing consisting of superiors, weasel, brackets, subordinates, pants, plaques, skullcaps, songket, and brooches. While the female dancers wear labuh brackets, songket cloths, manto hoods.

In addition, the woman dancers also wear side cloths, earrings, necklaces, rocking flower decorations, makeup pandanus folding bun, and conget. All clothing worn generally has a bright color, such as red, yellow, green, or blue.

Zapin Dance Property

Actually zapin dance does not use any property in its performances. However, several times this dance was found to be equipped with a shawl (sampur) which is often played by female dancers to beautify their movements. Until now this traditional dance is still often performed, especially when there are events of folk events, such as weddings, circumcisions, or traditional and state ceremonies. (as/ip)

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