Traditions & Communities


Tarian Dabus (Perak)

The Tarian Dabus is a warrior dance from Perak. Dabus is believed to have been brought to the Malay Peninsula around 200 years ago by traders and religious devotees. Some historians claim that the Dabus was brought from Aceh in Northern Sumatra, while others claim it was brought directly to the Malay Peninsula by traders from Baghdad during the 18th century.

Tarian Dabus is believed to have originated as a form of pastime during the time of the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. and his friends, Saidina Abu Bakar, Saidina Omar, Saidina Osman and Saidina Ali. The Dabus dance may have been used to train and prepare soldiers for religious battles, invoking spiritual power to perform their noble task and demonstrating their fearlessness and bravery. 

The Dabus dance is said to have the power to heal and prevent illnesses. This tradition combines singing and chanting, dancing as well as the skill of the dancers to wield the ‘anak dabus’ (a spike-like instrument decorated with bells at the hilt). In the original ritual form of Tarian Dabus, the dancers fall into trance and stab themselves with the 'anak dabus' to invoke spiritual power and to purify themselves.

The Tarian Dabus is performed by a group of singers and several dancers. The singers chant songs of praise to the Prophet Muhammad and other great religious figures. The chanting is accompanied by the rhythms of small rebana (hand drum). The dancers perform various Dabus movements, including Lang Sewah, Ayun Talak and Susun Sirih. The performance is usually presided over by a ‘Khalifah’.