Trimegah Bangun Persada

News Detail

Soya-Soya Dance, Cultural Reflection of South Halmahera People

26 June 2023

Harita Nickel fellow readers may be familiar with Soya-Soya dance. This dance is often found among Obi Island community, South Halmahera, North Maluku. For example, in welcoming regent or other honored guests who visit residents. Soya-Soya Dance also often appears in various activities held by Harita Nickel.

So what does Soya-Soya Dance mean to the local community and where did it come from? Check it out to the end!

North Maluku is one of the provinces in Indonesia that has abundant natural resources. Spices from this province became one of the treasures hunted by colonizers in the past, especially for cloves and nutmeg. The Portuguese even occupied North Maluku Province to monopolize the spice trade.

Apart from its rich natural resources, the province nicknamed Moloku Kie Raha is also known for its culture. Soya-Soya dance is one of North Maluku's traditional cultures that is quite popular among local people and tourists.

Soya-Soya dance is a war-dance that is part of the traditional cultural heritage of North Maluku. This dance is generally performed by male dancers who wear costumes similar to ancient sultanate soldiers. The number of dancing personnel is 3 or more people with an odd count.

This dance is very popular in Ternate, North Maluku and is often an important part of various events including welcoming VIP guests, traditional ceremonies, art performances and cultural festivals.

Origin of Soya-Soya Dance

Based on historical records, Soya-Soya Dance was originally used to raise the morale of Ternate Sultanate soldiers when storming Fort Nostra Senora Del Rosario (Kastela Fort) in Ternate which was occupied by the Portuguese on February 25, 1570.

The invasion was led by Sultan Baabullah with an aim to retrieve his father's mortal remains, Sultan Khairun, who was killed by Portuguese soldiers. In its later days, the raid turned into a revival of Kayoa people's struggle against Portuguese invaders at the end of 16th century.

As a tribute to this heroic event, Ternate Sultanate artists then developed Soya-soya Dance as one of the dances that reflects a spirit of courage and past glory that must be passed on to future generations.

If traced from its history, Soya-soya Dance is not only part of Ternate Sultanate culture but also a reflection of Kayoa people's struggle history, in South Halmahera Regency. The Ternate Sultanate warriors who initially invaded the Portuguese to retrieve the remains of Sultan Khairun, evolved into a resistance to repel the invaders.

Soya-Soya dance is also part of North Maluku culture in general. Not only in Ternate City or South Halmahera Regency, even children in villages in North Maluku have been taught Soya-Soya dance since they were young. Now, the dance is even taught back in elementary school.

Meaning of Soya-Soya Dance

The word Soya-Soya means "unyielding". Soya-Soya Dance is a traditional dance with distinctive movements and depicts attacking, evading, and defending movements as in war. In each movement, dancers portray an unyielding spirit and determination to defend their territory and culture.

In general, this dance is performed in groups with a minimum of 3 people and a maximum of unlimited as long as it is still an odd number. This number indicates that the odd number of troops will turn into an even number when added by a commander or troop leader.

Soya-Soya dancers usually wear white clothes with a colorful skirt-like connection cloth and a yellow headband as a symbol of a warrior. Accessories include a shield (salawaku) and a bamboo sword decorated with red, yellow and green palm leaves (ngana-ngana). It is accompanied by music from tifa (drum), saragai (gong), and tawa-tawa.

Soya-soya dance was originally performed as a way to honor the heroes' struggle to repel invaders who had long controlled their territory. However, at present, this dance also has an important meaning as an expression of community appreciation for the warriors who have worked hard to defend their homeland.

In addition, Soya-soya Dance is also a means to introduce local history and culture to the younger generation and the wider community. Through this dance, we are able to convey and appreciate the values of courage, unity, and unyielding spirit contained in local history and culture.

Go Top