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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

Oloan Theresia br.Tobing

Mrs. Ernestina had 2 sons and 3 daughter. The fourth is Mrs. Oloan Theresia br.Tobing, now lives in Pekanbaru (next province of North Sumatera), as the owner of a few rent houses.

they will be met on 7th this month. My husband will have a trip to Pekan Baru ( but on third week of this month ) where Mrs.Ernestina's second daughter lives ( Mrs. Oloan ) and she promised me the photos too.

When I collect information about my family history to the member -in case about things which my mother doesn't remember- I faced various reaction. First, why...?, then what for...? and just now when I asked about Mrs Ernestina's marriage -the year and why she got married in adult age / not teenager- and when she moved to Siantar, my mother's aunt -the 4th child of Mrs Ernestina : Mrs Oloan- answer that she had no idea, and then she even told me that our family ( including herself ) are so stupid because we've been ignoring our history. Then she shared her sadness because she remembered that Mrs Ernestina had been almost closed the door to her grandmother's life ( Mrs Ernestina had a step mother after her mother had died ) so that they found out after they were grown up.

Back to Mrs Oloan, she remembered when Mrs Ernestina gave her the Sadum which Mrs Ernestina's name is written, after she's just got married, Mrs Ernestina said that the ulos was woven by herself when she was a young girl or in batak : namarbaju. Namarbaju was the common age of the weaver that time.
Then Mrs Oloan gave the ulos to my mother when my mother had ran ulos business.
Mrs Oloan didn't do weave, she was a tailor. Maybe because she born and grown up in Siantar. After got married, she has been lived in Pekan Baru with her family until now. In family photo -I forgot to tell you- she stood behind Mrs Tianur, and her husband between the groom and my mother.

About the old photos, ( I think - in about 1953, if my mother was 10 ) Mrs Ernestina looked not much younger than she was in 1981 photos, and she was prettier when she was older ya. Family's photos were taken in Siantar ( I remember the rotan chairs ).
(From left to right)

-Mrs Ernestina'sFamily1: Mr Dari Walter, Mr Theodorik, Mrs Vera, Mrs Ernestina, Mrs Oloan.

-Mrs Ernestina'sFamily2: Front: Mrs Vera, Mrs Tianur with Mr Parulian on her lap, Mr Simon, Mrs Ernestina with Mrs Ariatna on her lap, Mr Theodorik, Mrs Lina - Mrs Ariatna's eldest sister -, Mrs Barita with Mr Hotasi on her lap - Mrs Ariatna's eldest brother -, Mrs Oloan.

Behind: Unknown, Mr tahi sumurung, Mr Manulang - Mrs Ariatna's father -, Mr Dari Walter.

-Mrs Ernestina'sFamily3: Mrs Vera carried Mr Parulian, Mrs Ernestina with Mr Hotasi on her lap, Mr Simon, Mr Theodorik with Mrs Ariatna in his lap, Mrs Lina.

thank you for sending me the margas (lineages) in the Silindung Valley. Now I become more realised that I know nothing about my ancestor :-(

I asked Mrs Oloan, what's her Tobing number? She said, 16th. So, I am the 18th.

About the picture, this photo was given by Mrs Oloan when my husband made trip to Pekan Baru on 28 March. This is the only photo she has. It was the funeral of Mr Theodorik in 1972. Unfortunately my opung Mrs Oloan wasn't unable to explain clearly to whom the ulos that was ready to be given by the man who had it at his hands. She said it might be for the children or grandchildren of Mr Theodorik.

First line from Center:
LMA Tarihoran, Vera br. Tobing, Helena br. Tobing, Oloan br.Tobing, Hutagalung (Mrs Oloan husband).

Second line:
M br. Sipahutar (wife of Mr Dari Walter - her head was between my parents), Parulian Tobing, Tianur br. Hutabarat, Tahi S L Tobing.

I think Mrs Ernestina's might be at the far right (after Mr Theodorik's head, because a widow normally takes position on head side of the body). I remember I was there (6 yr old), you can see the head of a little girl at left side of very little girl might be me. That very little girl in white dress might be my youngest sister Bintang, she was 2 yr old then.

I think it was ulos Mangiring A on Mrs Helena's shoulder and Sadum A on Mrs Oloan's shoulder. Mrs Oloan didn't remember why she choose sadum then.

Husband of Mrs Oloan: Mr Hutagalung - Mr Jan Piter hutagalung.

Mr Hutagalung was from Hutagalung Tuan Napitu clan (the order is: Harean (us) the first, Tuan Napitu the second, and Ina-ina the third). His family was in Lobusikkam-Sipoholon kampung (with some other margas live in). Mr Hutagalung had no blood relation with us. Mr Hutagalung's name : Jan Piter hutagalung.

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 23 April, 2006