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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


I remember why Mr.Ernestina joined us in Medan on 1975. My mother and my father had been lived separately since 1970 and my mother divorced him on 1975. My grandmother could not approve the divorce what ever the reason. She said it would humiliate our family because it has been never before a divorce happened formally in batak family and ( my grandmother was catholic ), even more if a wife divorces husband. And she was right! All the people around us suddenly knew my family because one of the vocal local news paper released news about us for years. In 1980 my mother married my step father who was Moslem. Again, my grandmother was very very upset. So, in the hardest years of her life, my mother only be supported by her grandmother. Although a few years before my grandmother died my mother and her mother became better in their relationship, I could see that they had never been so closed as my mother and her grandmother was.

My father was Tarutung people, my family name is Tarihoran, not common even around bataks. Tarihoran is in Bor-bor group ( of 13 fam ), the head is Pasaribu. My father's church was GKPI ( Gereja Batak Protestant Indonesia ). GKPI was separated from HKBP. He was the only son of a rich business man in Medan. After my second brother ( the third, I am the fourth ) was born, my father spent his time and money in Lapo Tuak ( like saloon ). And since my youngest sister was born 1970, he married again behind us.

After read your 1953 photo, I remember my family photo when I was 10yr old. Only my mother and her children (six of us). We made this photo in local photo studio. I saved that only -complete 'old'- family photo when I collected all our photos in my house after back from Bandung. (When I still in Bandung, I met my father -in Jakarta, 1995- after 20 years separated. I got one of his old photo -alone- and that is the only photo we have. My mother smiled when I saw her).
I can imagine that my mother would cry when she look EFs photos.

My father's name was Leonard MA Tarihoran. He is dead. Sorry, I have no idea of his date of birth.

My brothers and sisters:
1. Sondang E br. Tarihoran married BM Hasibuan (south Tapanuli)
2. Anthony MH Tarihoran married R br. Damanik (Simalungun)
3. Edyson S Tarihoran (died before got married)
4. Maria DR br.Tarihoran married EHGA Ambesa (Flores/Rote south east Timor)
5. Rudy SP Tarihoran
6. Bintang I br.Tarihoran married R Prahasta (father east Java, mother s.e Timor)

I am pleased you enjoy and appreciate Mr T's funeral photo. About Mrs Ernestina's position, I meant she was not shown in the photo (sorry, I was wrong in saying far right?).
And about my parent's 'important' position, I remember my mother said, it was my father who pointed to be the writer of Mr T's legacy.

... Your father is quite imposing and dominates the photo. So a picture paints a thousand words ya. In a little moment I knew him, I know he'd always been a show off man.
You mentioned that he and your mother had been living separately since 1970 ...did I? maybe the right year is after 1972. But before 1975 I remember he didn't stay in our house anymore.

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