Aceh gilded dagger


A Brief Record of the Experience of Two Frenchmen in West Aceh in the End of the XIX Century

In the 19th century, Westerners continued their exploration of various parts of Asia to exploit the riches of the so-called colored peoples. In this endeavor, they face various reactions of the local community to which they come.

The ancient map of the Aceh Sultanate

At the beginning of 1877, during a war between the Sultanate of Aceh and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a French L. Wallon1 came to the land of Teunom and Woyla, which lies on the west coast of Aceh. Wallon, conducting scientific research and intending to do golden seed business in the uplands of Teunom and Woyla2. The king in the Teunom lands and the conquest of Panga at that time was Teuku Imum Muda3, while the king of Woyla was Teuku in Blang. With this Woyla king, he had failed to reach agreement in this golden venture, because the king of Woyla asked for a quarter of the proceeds, while Wallon was only willing to give one-fifth4.

Three years later, in March 1880, Wallon returned to Teunom, this time with his compatriot Guillaume5. His journey from Padang (West Sumatra) to Teunom on a boat belonging to Nyak Din’s captain, took more or less two months because they dug out places and small islands to conduct research6.

The events of March 11, 1880

Wallon’s request to go upriver is not permitted by Teuku Imum, because there according to him there are bad people. The King objected Wallon away without him, for he feared the Wallon would be beaten by the Dutch enemies, and finally it was he who had to take care of everything. Then the two Frenchmen participated with Teuku Imum Muda by road to Kuala Woyla, while their belongings with the help of the king were lifted by sea by boat. Teuku Imum Muda hands over the safety responsibility of these two Frenchmen to the king of Woyla, Teuku in Blang but he refuses to accept them. Once again it was stated that the destination was not safe enough, and the two Frenchmen returned to Teunom with Teuku Imum Muda.

The day after arriving at Teunom, the two Frenchmen asked permission to go upriver Teunom, but the king advised them not to go there if they were not with him. They ignore this advice and declare that the king should not worry because of they as white people know exactly the business to be executed. They only asked the king’s help to find a guide, a cook, and a peddler7. After fulfilling their request, Teuku Imum left for Panga and the two Frenchmen headed for the Teunom headwaters. Thus the points we find in the letter of King Teunom addressed to the Assistant Resident of West Aceh in Meulaboh, dated March 10, 18808.

After two days of boarding the boat back and forth to the river Teunom, the two Frenchmen arrived on March 11, 1880 at four o’clock in Tuwi Perya9. Suddenly from the bush came two Acehnese, Panglima Lam Ara, and Po Imum Alue Leuhob, with approximately 40 followers10. Commander Lam Ara shouted to Teuku Din why came there with infidels. Teuku Din replied that they were asked by Teuku Imum Muda, Sayed Hasan, Teuku Padang and these two masters were not Dutch, but France intends to conduct an investigation in search of gold. Commander Lam Ara replied he did not care command earlier leaders because the people who live on the waterfront everything has become an infidel.

Commander Lam Ara and Po Imum Alue Leuhob immediately approached the boat and immediately finished the history of the two Frenchmen with their swords. Because the attack was so sudden, they did not have time to defend themselves, the Acehnese also wanted to spend the five native people who were in the boat, but all of them had jumped into the water and tried to escape. One of them came from Bogor named Aripan, was caught11. He asks forgiveness not to be beheaded because he is a Muslim. They do not just want to believe it before proving it. Then opened the Aripan pants and after it was known that he had been circumcised, he was released. The bodies of the two white men dumped them into the river and may have fallen prey to the crocodile, because when Teuku Imum searched for the bodies it was not found again, even with four boats.

The efforts of King Teunom

After King Teunom got word that the two Frenchmen were murdered, he mobilized an investigation and three days later he got word that the news was true. The messenger returned with Aripan with Teuku Din and Black and they told him all about it12. Immediately he sent fifty men to the ill-fated place by directing all attempts to commit the murder to be captured alive or dead and ordering the guilty to be found anywhere in his area, pursued and captured. He also asked the Dutch Assistant Resident in Meulaboh to immediately inform him whether the goods belonging to the Frenchmen were immediately sent to Meulaboh and if so he would do so immediately13.

The evil threat of the invaders

The Dutch Governor of Aceh Van Der Heyden ordered a Dutch local officer, Van Swieten, to leave for West Aceh by Siak fire on March 31, 1880, carrying a letter from the Governor to King Teunom14. He also wanted to send two infantry and cannon troops as necessary to the country of Teunom, but then postponed it until Van Swieten returned with the ship and again he himself intended to go to Teunom. In the letter of the Governor above to King Teunom, the discovery of his grief over the killing of the innocent people let alone the citizens of the friendly nations with the Dutch East Indies. He also appreciated the efforts of King Teunom to capture the murderers and also the safety of the goods left by the two victims praised. Even so, he was not satisfied anymore. In exchange for blood that has been shed, Van Der Heyden demanded to King Teunom and his people handed the killers of Wallon and Guillaume, while for the execution only given four days to the king. And if the killers were no longer in the territory controlled by King Teunom, and could not possibly arrest him, the Dutch asked the Teunom people to pay 2,000 rixdollars in the four-day period, the threat goes on to state that when his time is up and the demands of the king- The Dutch demands were not met, then King Teunom with his subjects would bear the consequences15.

Customs and traps that failed

Teuku Imum Muda, Raja Teunom (Tengah)

King Teunom tried to summon Commander Lam Ara and Po Imum Alue Leuhob with all his followers, intending to arrest him. Approximately 14 days later they arrived with more or less 40 followers carrying the goods belonging to the two Frenchmen consisting of three guns, a tent, twenty rixdollars and 50 pieces of gold and handed it to Teuku Banda to be forwarded to King Teunom. In addition they brought with a buffalo, a number of coconut and sugar cane to be delivered to the custom of asking the mercy of the king16.

Van Der Hayden

Teuku Imum Muda sent Teuku Banda and another Teuku Mut went to see Commander Lam Ara and Po Imum Alue Leuhob asked the two to face, but their followers just to wait before crossing the Panga river. But both of them refused the proposal if not allowed to come along with their followers. Then Teuku Imum searched his mind and sent a boat across the river to where the Commander was in order to surround them. When the boat looks out to the opposite Commander Lam Ara with his followers immediately fled. Then Teuku Imum told about 500 people to search for Commander Lam Ara and his friends through the fields of the fields and he himself with more than 1,000 people folk take the coastal road to go upstream to Tuwi Perya. Arriving there they did not reach the man, except rice, pepper and empty houses only. Teuku Imum ordered to burn the field house Commander Lam Ara and Po Imum, all of them 6 location17.

After the Dutch were convinced that Teuku Imum was apparently not involved in attempting to kill the two Frenchmen, then Governor Van Der Heyden declared in a letter from the deck of the ship “zeemeeuw” April 9, 1880, that he was willing to surrender the 2,000 ringgit deposit that would have been paid Teuku Imum to the Netherlands, into the hands of Teuku Imum himself for the cost of continuing the search for and arrest Commander Lam Ara and Po Imum Alue Leuhob18.


Taking experience from the event, the Dutch Governor of Aceh requested the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies in Betawi for the foreseeable future, an inland visit as the Frenchmen did, for the sake of salvation must be with Dutch permission and the head of native. Apparently, the Dutch did not like Wallon and his colleagues who did not ask permission first. On 18 February 1887, the Dutch Governor of Aceh issued permission to Mathieu Baron Von Hedenstrom, 28 years old, born in Odessa (Russia) and domiciled in Paris. He intends to continue investigations that have been done by Wallon and Guillaume in West Aceh. The letter states that the license only applies solely to the needs of a scientific inquiry and if wishing to visit places outside Meulaboh, he shall not visit, prohibited by the Dutch licensee assigned there for safety reasons.

The Dutch governor in Aceh declared that the cause of the crime and the killing was a loot, especially of the rough and uncivilized people of Aceh. Is there a statement that the governor can be accepted after proven Commander Lam Ara and his colleagues have returned the treasures of the two French including their ringgit and gold money? It can not be expected the colonist to understand the actions of others based on different view of them. Nor can it be expected, in an atmosphere of war against the Dutch, Commander Lam Ara who hurt that the unbelieving European is about to corrupt his religion and his people will do other than what he has done. The clash of values allowed by different circumstances has happened there.

Footnote :

  1. The travel record is contained in Annales de I ‘Extreme Orient, August 1789, and translated by D.F.A. Hervey with the title “Klouwang and its Caves, West Coast of Atchin”, Journal of the Straits Branch, Royal Asiatic Society, (Singapore), vol 8, (December 1881), ms. 153-8.
  2. Aceh, since before Sultan Iskandar Muda (1607-1636), has been famous for its gold. A. Hamilton in his travels to the archipelago, 1688-1723, mentions the following: “Atcheen affords nothing of its own product for export, Its being 2% better than Andraghiry sic Pahaung sic gold, and is equal in touch to our guinea “A New Account of the East Indies, Volume II, Edinburg, 1727, ms 108.
  3. When the Aceh War began against the Dutch in 1873, Teuku Imum Muda as a young Uleebalang (hulubalang) went to the Aceh-Inti (Acheh Proper) neheri in 1874 to take part in the war against the Dutch that was considered infidel by the people of Aceh at that time. Since many of his people were martyred and wounded he was forced to return to West Aceh, after he vowed not to surrender to the Dutch. But in 1876 through his scribe, he expressed his wish by a surrender letter with a condition not obliged to meet the Dutch or commander of a Dutch warship. The Dutch ignored him and continued to blockade the export of his pepper, and in 1877 the terms were withdrawn and he went to Kutaraja and signed 18 articles of deed submission to the Netherlands. One of them contained the provision that part of the income of the people that should have been dedicated to the Sultan of Aceh would fall to the Government of the Netherlands East Indies. See “Mededeelingen betreffende de Atjehsche Onderhoorig-heden“, Bijdragen tot de Taal-en Volkenkunde van Nederlands Indie, (The Hague), IX, 1910, m.s. 153.
  4. Reports of West Aceh Resident Assistant, Van Langen, 6 April 1880, dossier no. 9186, Arkib Am Kingdom, Schaarebergen, Holland.
  5. King Teunom gave permission to Wallon to keep the goods in the king’s shop in Bubon Bay. See Teuku Imum Muda’s letter to Assistant Dutch Resident in West Aceh, March 18, 1880, ibid
  6. Aripan’s report, this second French payroll, to Dutch officials in Kutaraja, 7 April 1880, in Van Der Heyden’s Political Report, (15 Jan-30 Oct. 1880), ibid.
  7. Who was the guide, Teuku Din, the cook’s helper named Black and two other peddlers accompanying the journey? Report of West Aceh Resident Assistant, 6 April 1880, ibid.
  8. King Teunom’s Letter to Assistant Resident of West Aceh, ibid
  9. Regarding the reconstruction of the events of March 11, 1880, see Teuku Imum Muda letter, April 3, 1880; Recognition of Aripan, 7 April 1880 Political Report Van Der Heyden, 5 Jan.-30 October 1880, ibid.
  10. Commander Lam Ara from Pedir (Pidie) originally lived upstream in Woyla, because of a dispute with the king of Woyla, he was driven from there, Then he settled upstream Teunom, Tuwi Perya, opened the ground by planting pepper. The followers of this Commander also Po Imum Alue Lehob are Pedir guys. Van Langen’s report, 6 April 1880, ibid.
  11. Aripan, 23, has worked in Bali. After his master named Rouseline moved to Saigon, he was about to return to Bogor, but in Singapura, he met Wallon, Guillaume, and Courret. Eventually Aripan willing to work on them. With the latter two, he went to Betawi and then to Padang (West Sumatra) / See Aripan’s confession, April 7, 1880 in Van Der Heyden’s Political Report, Jan. 5-80 October 1880. Ibid.
  12. Letter Teuku Imum Muda, 18 March 1818, ibid.
  13. Ibid
  14. Letter to the Governor of the Netherlands in Aceh to the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies in Batavia. 612 / P.Z., 4 April 1880. Ibid
  15. Ibid
  16. Letter Teuku Imum Muda, 3 April 1818, ibid.
  17. After three days the Raha returned to Panga and it was learned that the son of Panglima Lam Ara’s brother had died immersed in the river of Teunom while fleeing the pursuit of the King of Teunom, and the four Commander-in-Chiefs were also lost in the river when they resigned. Ibid
  18. Ibid
  19. Letter no. 690 / P.Z. 18 April 1880. Ibid

Reference :

Gold, Infidel, and Death; T. Ibrahim Alfian; Pusat Latihan Penelitian Ilmu-Ilmu Sosial Aceh; Darussalam – Banda Aceh; 1976.

Translate from : EMAS, KAFIR DAN MAUT

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