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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


Mrs. Ernestina br Hutagalung was a daughter of a Guru Zending Nommensen-Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) Church. Guru Zending means like the board in church organization that developed the Christian mission ( of Ludwig Nommensen who founded the first church in Batak's Land; HKBP ). Unfortunately my mother doesn't know Mr. Hutagalung's name. Maybe it is the influence of Batak's habit that taboo to say the older name. Mrs. Ernestina had one sister from her first mother and seven brothers and four sisters from her second mother after her first mother was dead.

The name of Mrs.Ernestina's father was Mr. Elkana Hutagalung. He was a guru zending, it means he was educated by the missionaries from Europe - the zending - to be a priest. He was one of many guru in Silindung ( batak's land hill area; Tarutung is the town ).

About Mr Elakana hutagalung, I think the last person I can ask is the daughter of Mrs Ernestina's sister; Jenny. I will ask my mother to ask her.
Also for your questions : ...Do you think that anyone in the family would know when he was a pastor and the name of his church? Do we know which mission school Mrs Ernestina attended and the years when she attended?

About Mr Elkana story, I'm still waiting for my mother's report from Mrs Ernestina's nephew (Jenny's daughter), since Mr Oloan doesn't have much info about her parents and grandparents. But I think she must know about her husband, Mr Hutagalung's story. I'll call her and ask her.

Hutagalung: (the order is: Harean (us) the first, Tuan Napitu the second, and Ina-ina the third).

Mrs Ernestina's father was Elkana Hutagalung

About Guru Zending. I made mistake again, from Mr Kasman I knew that Guru Zending is a teacher (not a pastor) in a school that ran by HKBP. Zending schools teach reading, writing, etc., but the most is religion. From Mrs Oloan I knew that Mr Elkana didn't spend his teaching time just in Tarutung but was being moved a few times but she didn't remember the places.

Mr Elkana and wife's grave is somewhere in Tarutung. Mrs Oloan said because of Mr Elkana's profession as a teacher he stayed in any place he worked, and so it might be his grave place. One of Mrs Ernestina's sister in law ever said they found his bones in a market land, formerly the place for bury. His bones then had been moved to Tarutung. But Mrs Oloan doesn't know where the grave of Mr Elkana's wife is, but maybe in Barus area near Tarutung.

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 1 June, 2006