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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

Miss. Ernestina was married to Theodoric L. Tobing, the grandson of Raja Amandari Sabungan ( Tobing ) who was the closed friend of Mr. Nommensen because Amandari had saved him from the assassination plan of another raja in Batak's Land. Until she had 3 children ( of five ), her family moved from Tarutung to Pematang Siantar ( 2 hours from LakeToba, 2 hours from Medan ). The reason of moving was because her husband got a job as Manteri Blasting ( Netherlands government's head of Simalungun district for Taxes ) and this job was awarded because of Tobing-Nommensen connection.

Mrs. Ernestina's grave is besides her husband's, in Tarutung. Her husband was dead in 1972 in P. Siantar, and his bones was moved to Tarutung in 1979.

Pamela, please forgive me for my big mistake about the place of grave of Mrs. Ernestina and her husband ( my memory is not very good, ya! ). They were buried in Pematang Siantar ( Mr. Theodoric on 1971, and Mrs. Ernestina on 1982 ). The bones that we moved - from P.Siantar to Tarutung - on 1980 were Mrs. Ernestina's mother in-law's. Moved to be buried beside her husband Mr.Jakobus L.Tobing ( the son of Raja Amandari Sabungan L. Tobing, and he was the keeper of "Surat Balga" / Great Letter where Raja Amandari and Nommensen become brothers was written ).
*If I could defend my self for this mistake, I would say because of we used to call the elder all the same, only : ompung! :-D

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

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.

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.

Mr Theodorik was retired in his ages 55 to 60.

Tobing of Mrs Tianur's mother a distant to Mr Theodorik's. Tobing has groups: Ompu Sumurung (we are), Parbubu, and ... sorry I forget. I'll ask my mother. Pamela, my uncle Simon, now is the Head of Tobing. He makes her mother proud.

The Tobing clan are:
- Ompung Sumurung in Saitnihuta village
- Ompung Sumuttul in Parbubu village

Here is a fax of the margas (lineages) in the Silindung Valley. The organization shown here occurred about 15 generations prior to the birth of Maria...She will know how many generations she is from the apical ancestor.The English text is Vergouwen, and the Indonesian text is N. Siahaan. Sorry they are crooked. Tobing is Lumbantobing. Lumban translates as "group of villages".

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.

This photo looks pretty much par for the course. The coffin in the middle with the encumbent" covered by a Sibolang. Close family members wearing sibolang and surisuri. Hula2 on one side and boru on the other. I'm blown away by how many sadum are being worn in 1972. Clearly a foto from the Silindung Valley???

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.

Mr Teodorik's mother's bone were moved to Tarutung to be with her husband, Mr Jakobus (not Mr Elkana). So Mrs Ernestina's parents in law's grave is in Tarutung, rightly in Sirau-rau far from town because it is on the way to Sibolga.


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 1 June, 2006