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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

Theodorik L. Tobing

Theodorik Lumban Tobing was born on 2 May 1891. He was the son of Jakobus Lumban Tobing and the grandson of Raja Amandari Sabungan Tobing. Raja Amandari livend in Sahit Ni Huta village and was the head of the Ompung Sumurung arm of the Tobing marga. He was a close friend of Ludwig Nommensen whose life he had saved when the missionary was the subject of an assassination plot by another Batak raja. The close relationship - or brotherhood - between Raja Amandari and Nommensen was recorded in the Surat Balga (Great Letter). This Tobing/Nommensen relationship was an important factor in Theodorik's appointment as the Manteri Blasting (Chief Tax Collector for the Netherlands' colonial government) of the Simulungun Batak based in Pematang Siantar.

Raja Amandari had three sons, Issak, Jakobus - to whom he gave the Surat Balga - and one other. Jakobus had two sons, a first son and Theodorik. Unfortunately Jakobus died whilst the two boys were quite young. The boys' mother feared that, in accordance with tradition, she might be forced to marry one of her brothers-in-law. The elder brother died before Theodorik's marriage and his mother moved to Pemang Siantar with him and died there in 1956. In 1980 her bones were moved and she was re-buried with those of her husband in Sirau-rau, outside the town of Tarutung on the way to Sibolga.

Theodorik died on 2 September 1972 in Pemang Siantar where he is buried and lies with his wife, Ernestina.




The Bugis silk sarong are Mr Theodorik's. He wore them in proposing his become daughter-in law and wedding ceremonies of his sons.


-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.


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 1 June, 2006