Comparison between Barus and Plak-Pling tombstones based on analysis of motif design

Author : Wani Maler, Shyeh S.K.M., R.W. Oetomo, Suprayitno, Mokhtar Saidin
Publication : Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia
Page : 119-124
Volume Number : 70
Year : 2020

Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, Volume 70, November 2020, pp. 119 – 124

Comparison between Barus and Plak-Pling tombstones based on analysis of motif design

Wani Maler1,*, Shyeh S.K.M.1, R.W. Oetomo2, Suprayitno3, Mokhtar Saidin1

1 Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 USM Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
2 Balai Arkeologi Medan, 20134 Sumatera Utara, Indonesia
3 Universitas Sumatera Utara (USU) 20155 Medan Sumatera Utara, Indonesia
* Corresponding author email address:

Abstract: The Centre for Global Archaeological Research at Universiti Sains Malaysia (transl. University of Science Malaysia) had signed a memorandum of understanding with Universitas Syiah Kuala (Unsyiah) and Universitas Sumatera Utara (USU) regarding Islamic archaeological research in Sumatera. This cooperation was in order to unearth new clues on the early history of Islam in the South East Asia region. A preliminary survey had been done in Aceh and Barus which found a number of tombstones belonging to the early Muslim population in the area. This study focused on the Barus tombstones found in Penanggahan, Barus during the fieldwork in the December of 2014. The oldest tombstone found in Barus to date was dated to about 1350 AD. The Barus tombstones were made from tuff. This particular tombstone was unique in its form, the decoration and motif not conforming to any known classification to date. The engravings and carvings on the surface of the tombstones have its own distinct style. There are also similarities of the ornaments with those of the Plak-Pling tombstones which seems indicative of contact between Barus and Aceh during the time of the spread of Islam in the region.

Keywords: Islamic archaeology, tombstone, headstone, gravestone, grave marker, Barus, Aceh, ornament