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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

Tahi Sumurung L Tobing

Mrs. Ernestina had 2 sons and 3 daughter. The eldest was my grandfather, Tahi Sumurung L.Tobing (past away in 1994), was working in Government Tax Office in Medan.

The photo of Mr. Tahi Sumurung L. Tobing (the first son of Mrs. Ernestina br Tagalung) was taken on 1980's in my house.

Mrs Ernestina's first son, Mr Tahi Sumurung L. Tobing ( Mrs Tianur's husband ) was born in Siantar, February 3rd, 1919 and died in Medan, January 13th, 1995.

Mr Tahi Sumurung had been worked in government tax office in Sibolga for 2 years, since my mother was 6 yr old, 1949. Then he and Mrs Tianur moved to Medan in 1951, worked in government tax office until he retired.

Her ulos tondi was from her parents. Mrs T was the first child from mother br.Tobing. Her illness after gave birth might be a kind of baby blues syndrome. But from Mr Lirou I heard that Mrs T had been disappointed with her husband, who was unable to cheer her. I think Mrs T had a great expectation of her husband who as long as I know just a calm, quite, and simple man. Mr Tahi was not involving his self in any organization or adats and had no bright career. They found each other by match-maker help, Mrs T's uncle the shoes trader.

Mrs Tianur/Mr T S's house in Medan. Mr Tahi Samurung didn't leave it to Mrs Vera, but to all his children. He said that house is jabu parsaktian ( a house that is owned and can be used by all and please don't sell it ). First, all of them can understood and took the message. The problem was arising when Mr Frans told all of them that there was a man who asked if the house is for sale. Mr Frans and wife has been living there until now. Mr Parulian's wife (Linda br. Batubara, became widow since 1987 or 1988?), has been living in Tebing Tinggi (about 100 km from Medan) for continuing her mother's job as give-birth helper nurse, and she is lived in her mother's house since her mother died. This house was a legacy for her brothers, and when her brother needed money he asked her to move. She was confused of being asked to find a new house since she had no money. And she could not leave her patient too. So, when she knew that the house in Medan might be sold, she hope that she got help to solve her problem. Mr Frans also said that mr Simon asked how much the price that the buyer offered. Then, my mother suggested Mr Simon to sell the house to help Mrs Linda (Mr Simon promised to take care of Mrs Linda and her daughter in Mr Parulian's funeral), but if it should be always the jabu parsaktian, please just buy it for himself because he is the rich one in family. My mother could make such suggestion because she bought Mr Tahi&Dari's land (then became her ulos gallery) because she was the rich one among the family. But Mr Simon said he had no enough money, and he could not help Mrs Linda. then Mr Simon's wife and mother in-law made a adat statement that boru has no right to legacy (but Mrs Linda is not boru here, isn't she?). That hurt my mother's feeling. Even if they accused my mother might had interest in this legacy, my mother said she's just worth it because she was the one who build it. Later, Mr Simon bought Mr Linda house in Tebing Tinggi, (after Mrs Linda's daughter beg him) so Mrs Linda can stay there.

My Mother has Mrs Ernestina's little land and a few houses in Siantar. Beside ulos and rice land, in adat Silindung there is a father's gift to his boru before he died. So if the gift is not yet given when he died, his boru can have right to his legacy. I heard this from Mrs Ariatna's husband, who knows much about adat batak.

Mrs Tianur's children:
1. Veronica P br. Tobing married LMA Tarihoran but is divorced since 1975. In batak divorced declaration is important since after divorced there are no relationship between two margas even the children forever be involved in their marga.
2. Simon H L. Tobing married FS br. Hutabarat
3. Petrus SP L. Tobing married L br. Batubara
4. Fransiskus AT L.Tobing married K br. Situmorang
5. Edward P L. Tobing (died before got married)
6. Elisabeth I br. Tobing married R Simanungkalit

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 19 April, 2006