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Traveling to Lake Toba in North Sumatra, don’t forget to stop by Samosir Island. Here you can hunt for souvenirs typical of Batak nuances at low prices and good quality, as well as try out the Batak cultural heritage, namely ulos.
Ulos is an Indonesian masterpiece that comes from one of the oldest civilizations in Asia dating back 4,000 years, namely the Batak culture. Ulos even existed long before Europeans knew about textiles.
In Batak, especially in the Lake Toba area, ulos is a traditional symbol that is considered sacred and whose traditions are still sustainable. Ulos is very important to be used by the Batak people for traditional ceremonies, weddings and even death.
However, even though ulos has been designated as a national intangible cultural heritage since October 17 2014 and is being intensively made into a world cultural heritage through UNESCO, not many know the true philosophy of ulos.
In addition to aesthetic value, a piece of ulos is also full of artistic, historical, religious and cultural values. Each motif, choice of color, type, and how to use and give ulos, all have their own meaning.
Broadly speaking, ulos has the meaning of life and represents the universe. Ulos is also a symbol of blessing, affection and unity.
Tracing its history, ulos literally means blanket. Formerly the ancestors of the Batak tribe were mountain people. They consider ulos the most comfortable, practical and safe for everyday life, to warm the body and protect from cold, rather than the sun and fire.
Gradually the ulos becomes a primary need and is increasingly important, especially when traditional elders use it at official customary meetings. Even Batak women who are proud to weave, wear and pass it on to their families as an heirloom.
Given the high value of ulos for life, customary regulations were made that started with its philosophical roots. The name is the Mangulosi ritual or giving ulos.
That is, a person can only ‘mangulosi’ those who, according to speech or genealogy, are below. For example, Natoras tu ianakhon (parents to children), but not vice versa.
The type of ulos given must also be in accordance with customary provisions. When it is used, to whom it is conveyed, and in what traditional ceremony, its function cannot be exchanged because each ulos has its own meaning.
For example, the Ragidup ulos type as a symbol of life and has the highest degree compared to other types cannot be given arbitrarily as long as the person’s status has not married a child, even though he or she is facing an important moment to become a bride. Instead, the bride and groom will be given a Ragihotang ulos which means prayer.
In its development, ulos was also given to non-Batak people. It is also used as a talisman (tondi) which is believed to have the power to protect the body from evil things through prayer inserts.
The placement of the ulos used is also meaningful. Namely warding off hot and cold weather, to show status.
Cultural observer Raya Siregar explained that some ulos are worn on a collar, used as a scarf, wrapped around the body, and in other positions such as head ties. Generally, the ulos that is slung is for the kings. Ulos motifs can vary, according to caste and descent. As for color, kings and queens used to use gold and red.
Currently, a handful of ulos conservationists have innovated to revive the natural coloring technique known as harimontong. Such as purplish blue, and jabi-jabi (banyan) tree bark for brown.
However, what you need to know, basically there are only three colors of ulos, and they have spiritual meaning for the Batak people.
“That is Black, White and Red. These three colors are the leaven of life. Red means courage, black means leadership and white means purity,” said Monang Naipospos, a Batak culture activist quoted by the Medan Tribune.
He also corrected the misconception that ulos have various colors. “Outside of these three colors are called sekka-sekka,” he said.
For those of you who are interested in trying high-quality Batak ulos at bargain prices, try visiting Lumban Suhi Suhi Village.
This village has been known to foreign countries as the best ulos producer. One ulos woven cloth with ordinary thread costs around IDR 300-500 thousand. If it is silk thread, it can reach Rp. 5 million.
The location is located between the port of Tomok and Pangururan City. It takes about 40 minutes from Tomok village or 20 minutes from Pangururan to reach the location by driving.
DetikTravel also recommends the Tomok Market souvenir center. Especially for those of you who are looking for Batak ulos while looking for souvenirs typical of Batak nuances, various accessories and decorations with gorga (traditional Batak carvings) to miniature Bolon houses (traditional Batak Toba houses).
The location is in Tomok Village, not far from the harbor and the historical site of the tomb of King Sidabutar, who is believed to be the ancestor of the Batak tribe.
There are four alternatives to Samosir. The fastest from Ajibata pier near Parapat City. The distance can be reached in about 5 hours drive from Medan City, and 30 minutes by boat or ferry to the location.
For overnight stays, there are many alternative accommodations nearby such as hotels, hostels and resorts. If you want to go back soon, you should not be too late so that the trip is not hampered.
By : Zoraya Ralie