Woven Worlds – Batak in the Picture.
From 17 February - 2 July in the Tropenmuseum

Starting from 17 February, two exhibitions about the culture of the Batak may be seen at the Tropenmuseum. These inhabitants of Sumatra are known for their ancient tradition of fine weaving. The exhibitions show beautiful examples of these textiles, the story of their collectors, and the historic photographs made by one of the collectors, Tassilo Adam. In this way, visitors to the Tropenmuseum may learn about the intriguing culture of the Batak.

For centuries the Batak lived a relatively independent existence in the North Sumatran highlands. After coming contact with the colonial power in the eighteenth century, their culture changed significantly. These changes are interlaced in the Batak textile tradition which has survived to this day. The textiles exhibited in the Park Room reveal these developments in the Batak culture. In addition, a dynamic 150 years of collection history is a theme of the exhibit.

Four collectors as guests in a foreign culture
The Batak objects in the exhibition offer an insight into the development of their culture as well as the priorities, motives, and strategies of four collectors: Herman Neubronner van der Tuuk, Johan Ernst Jasper, Tassilo Adam and Sandra Niessen. The latter is a well-known present-day collector of Batak textiles. Niessen has offered her assistance for the development of this exhibition, and loaned her textiles. In the Gallery, the visitor will find the photographs by Tassilo Adam, the photographer and collector of German descent.

Batak in the Picture
At the beginning of the previous century, Tassilo Adam made hundreds of photographs of the daily life of the Batak. In 1919 he organized an exhibition of his photographs in Medan, Sumatra, personally making the prints for that exhibition. Afterwards, all of his glass plate negatives and exhibition prints were sold to the Colonial Museum, now the Tropenmuseum. In the exhibition, ‘Batak in the Picture, historic photographs by Tassilo Adam’ a number of these original prints may be viewed again, almost 90 years later. They are supplemented with new prints made from the original glass plate negatives. In addition to the stunning photographs, a film reveals how the Batak of today reacted to these past images of their land and forefathers.

Open from Monday until Sunday 10:00 – 17:00, closed 1 January, 29 April and 5 May 2006.

KIT Tropenmuseum, Linnaeusstraat 2, Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS

Woven Worlds
Park Room, 17 February until 2 July 2006

Batak in the Picture
Gallery, 17 February until 14 May 2006

By presenting a preview of two special Batak exhibitions that will be held in the Tropenmuseum during the first half of 2006. The focus of the exhibitions include: Batak textiles and photographys by Tassilo Adam, who lived and worked in the Batak area from 1913 until 1920.

In addition, anthropologist Sandra Niessen will present a preview of her new book about Batak textiles, entitle: 'Batak Textiles in the Lake Toba Tradition: Design, Technique, Nomenclature'.

The Tropenmuseum has one of the largest collections of Batak textiles in the world. In her book, Sandra also describes the ulos, uwis, hiou that have been ‘forgotten’ in the course of time.

In short, a pusaka for every Batak, a masterwork on which Sandra has worked for 20 years. To conduct her research, she lived in the Batak area of North Sumatra for a long time. Sandra will be present at Danau Toba Night III and will be happy to chat with Batak about her book, and answer all your questions. She is interested in her reactions to her book. You will be able to sign up for the first edition of the book.

Read below for Sandra Niessen’s biography. (See more easily readable version of Sandra Niessen's biography on www.tribaltextiles.info)