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Vera Tobing collection

(A study of a group of Toba Batak textiles most of which were inherited from two Batak women who were born in the last decade of the 19th Century and second decade of the 20th Century in villages around Tarutung, North Tapanuli, in North Sumatra (also known as the Silindung Valley)) - compiled by Pamela A Cross and Maria DRT Ambesa

these images are and may not be reproduced without the express permission of Pamela A Cross and Vera Tobing

click on main photo enlargement to go to Vera Tobing collection photogallery - click on any thumbnails to go to further photo enlargements


and mine is Pantekosta because I follow my husband's.

My father in law ( fam. Ambesa ) was Nusa Tenggara Barat ( Timor ) people, and my mother in law was br. Silalahi. My husband's grandfather was Silalahi ( who ran Christian mission too in Timor and stayed in Rote Island ) but his grandmother was Timor.

[And one more different ulos, frankly I doubt it is ulos, my mother in law collection. I'm sorry if this is out of Vera Tobing collection, but my husband asked me to ask you maybe you know what kind of cloth it is. I just scanned it too, the end part of it. The rest panel is just the same. I wonder of its fringe, its threads are wrapped by un-like thick thread, like thread for fishing, and at the end there is a flat thin metal with hole ( like small cd ). It is difficult for me to say in english :-). My husband doesn't know the story, he just know that it was given by his grandfather ( Mr Silalahi ) to his mother.]

The arrangement of the stripes in the cloth in your attachment is definitely Batak, both the white topi (edge) and the stripes bordering the side. Unfortunately, I can't see more of the badan, to get a good sense of the ikat. The ikat is usually the indicator of the textile name. I think this is a simple ragi hotang, sometimes called ragi huting, without supplementary weft in the fringe ends.

As far as the fringe concerned, this has been a site of a great deal of Batak weaver creativity. In years after this textile was made (I think this textile is pretty old), the fringes were often cut off and a synthetic fringe added (from Singapore). It is nice for me to see this cloth, and to realize that there was antecedant to that Singapore-fake-gold-fringe craze. I don't know where the metal parts are from, but I am quite taken with them.

It comes from Silalahi? That is especially interesting for me. But it looks like a Toba cloth.

The unknown ulos of my husband's, did I mention that the badan / ikat is very smooth (like nylon compared with cotton if the cotton is the ulos). I have made the photo of it and saved it to cd I will send with parcel.

If it is compared with ragihotang, yes they are similar in line motif and what Sandra said, ...both the white topi (edge) and the stripes bordering the side.
My husband's grandfather was Silalahi, but my husband is not really sure if Mr Silalahi brought it from Silalahi land. Silalahi village is by Toba Lake, behind Samosir land if we came from Parapat .

I wonder why ragihotang is sometimes called ragihuting, because huting means cat and I frequently heard: You eat like huting! when someone saw others eat very little rice on her/his dish. And from my Sudanese friend I know 'nasi ucing' means cat rice, a very small amount of rice wrapped to be sold).

About Eben ulos that Sandra wanted to buy, unfortunately Eben endears it. He said it is a memory of his grandfather. But we want to thank Sandra for her appreciation and shared with us. I will email her.

Pamela told me that you were interested in Eben ulos which you said it kind of Ragihuting. Unfortunately my husband doesn't want to sell it because it is the only ulos he has from his grandfather Mr Silalahi. Thank you very much for your appreciation and your share of it's precious.

ulos in the Vera Tobing collection photographed by Mari Pro Foto Studio, Jawa Barat Depok
click on main photo enlargement to go to Vera Tobing collection photogallery - click on any thumbnails to go to further photo enlargements
go to Indonesia country page - go to Indonesia photogalleries and articles
Maria DRT Ambesa is the daughter of Vera Tobing and an architect now living with her husband in Java. She has been the essential intermediary allowing these fine textiles and their story to be shared. She arranged for the family ulos to be photographed and has worked tirelessly, together with her mother, to track down information about the ulos, their weavers and to extract memories and photos of the past from a family who have been amazed that there should be any interest in their history or value placed on it as background to the textiles. Maria's patience, persistence and endless cheerful support plus her excellent English, have made the 'Vera Tobing collection' not only possible but a thoroughly enjoyable study to develop.

Both Pamela and Maria are very grateful indeed for the encouragement and advice which they have received from Sandra Niessen, a leading expert on the Batak and their textiles. See an autobiography and Batak references for more information about Sandra and her publications.

Copyright © 2012 Pamela A Cross. The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only and may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Pamela A Cross.
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this page last updated 20 April, 2006