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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

The funeral of Theodorik L.Tobing in 1972 in Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra.

Front row standing facing the camera from centre and going to the right as facing:
LMA Tarihoran (then husband of Vera), Vera br. Tobing (eldest grandchild of Theodorik, daughter of his eldest son, Tahi), Helena br. Tobing (youngest daughter and fifth child of Theodorik), Oloan br.Tobing (second daughter and fourth child of Theodorik), Mr Hutagalung (the husband of Oloan).
Second row standing facing the camera from centre and going to the right as facing:
Mrs br. Sipahutar (wife of Mr Dari Walter, second and youngest son of Theodorik - her head is between Tarihoran and Vera), unknowns partly hidden by the post,
Petrus SPL (Parulian) Tobing (grandson and third son of Tahi) Tianur br. Hutabarat (wife of eldest son, Tahi, with her head between Helena and Oloan), Tahi S L Tobing (eldest son of Theodorik)

Ernestina br. Hutagalung, Theodorik's widow, is likely to be sitting to very far right of the coffin in front of her family, near to her husband's head. This is the traditional position for the widow of the deceased. There is a suggestion of folds of textiles of someone in this position to the far right of the coffin and just out of shot. The head of Theodorik as he lies in the coffin can just be seen to the far right of the photo in line with Mr Hutagalung.

Possibly the two little girls with their backs to the camera are Vera's two younger daughters - Maria (Maria DRT Ambesa) and Bintang - as they were present at the funeral when Maria was 6 and Bintang 2.

Ulos being worn: The man standing to the left of the photo with his back to the camera has a ragi hotang over his shoulder and is holding up a sibolang which he may be about to place over Theodorik's body in the coffin. L M A Tarihoran has a sibolang over his shoulder and Vera has a surisuri around her shoulders. Helena is wearing over her shoulder the ragi hotang (or huting) namarsimata woven by Ernestina and Oloan is probably wearing the sadum woven by Ernestina over her shoulder - see close-up of both sisters wearing these ulos woven by their mother around 60 years earlier. Parulian, standing behind Helena, may be wearing a bolean or surisuri over his shoulder. The women sitting with their backs to the camera can be seen with a variety of ulos, mainly sadum, over their shoulders.

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
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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 2 April, 2009