Introduction to Batak Culture
Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups found in the highlandsof North Sumatra, Indonesia. Their heartland lies to the west of Medan centred on LakeToba. In fact the "Batak" include several groups with distinct, albeit related, languages andcustoms (
. While the term is used to include the Toba, Karo, Pakpak-Dairi,Simalungun, Angkola and Mandailing. Occasionally it is also used to include the Alas-Kluetpeople of Central/Southern Aceh, but usually only as relates to language groups.
The Batak people live in the north of Sumatra, in the hilly region of lake Toba. At thebeginning of this century the last Batak were placed under the authority of theNetherlands. Most of them were christianized. The Batak form the largest protestantcommunity of Asia. Nevertheless a lot of old traditions were preserved. More than 4million people are Batak; it is one of Indonesia's largest population groups. Actually Batakis a general name for 6 groups with different cultural and linguistic characteristics, but theybelieve in a descent of a common ancestor. The house model you've just seen, is forinstance typical for the Batak. However, all Batak have in common that they live on thegrowing of rice and have the same wedding system. The Batak areorganized in 'margas',large family groups. The members of one marga can only marry a person of another marga.Upon her marriage the wife passes over into the husband's marga.The Batak Toba and Batak Simalungun people live around Parapat. The Batak peoplecomposed of Batak Toba, Simulungun, Pak-Pak, and Karo, are known for their