Andaya The trans-Sumatra trade and the ethnicization of the Batak In: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 158 (2002), no: 3, Leiden, 367-409

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The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak'
Considerations of historiography and ethnicity1

Early visitors to Southeast Asia were fascinated by rumours of a cannibal tribe called the Batak in the interior of Sumatra. When John Anderson travelled along the east coast and its interior areas in the early part of the nineteenth century, he met a Batak who told him of having eaten human flesh seven times, even mentioning his preference for particular parts of the body. Two other Batak confirmed having also participated in this practice and 'expressed their anxiety to enjoy a similar feast upon some of the enemy, pointing to the other side of the river. This they said was their principal inducement for engaging in the service of the sultan.'2 Such reports simply reinforced myths and partial truths which had circulated about these people since Marco Polo's oft-quoted story of a Sumatran people (presumably the Batak) who consumed their ill (Latham 1978:255). European perceptions were also influenced by stories commonly told in east coast Sumatra by 'downstream' (hilir) people that those 'upstream' {hulu), that is, in the interior, were hostile and grotesque. A Portuguese chronicler even repeated downriver stories of an inland group possessing tails 'like unto sheep' (B. Andaya 1995:542). It has been suggested that lurid details of cannibalistic practices may have been provided by the Batak themselves in an effort to prevent outsiders from penetrating into their lands. From early times, therefore, cannibalism became associated with Batak identity and had the desired effect of limiting the intrusion of Europeans until the nineteenth century. But perhaps a more
My thanks to Barbara Watson Andaya, John Miksic, and Uli Kozok for reading earlier drafts of this essay and for their most useful comments. I would also like to express my gratitude to Bob Blust and Sander Adelaar for their helpful advice regarding linguistic evidence. 2 J. Anderson 1971:34. The 'sultan' was the Malayu ruler of Deli, who claimed many of Deli's hinterland Batak as his subjects. LEONARD Y. ANDAYA obtained his PhD at Cornell University and is Professor of History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. A specialist in the history of Southeast Asia, in particular Malaysia and Indonesia, he has published, among other titles, The heritage of Arung Palakka; A
history of South Sulawesi (Celebes) in the seventeenth century, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1982, and The world of Maluku; Eastern Indonesia in the early modern period, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press,

1993. Professor Andaya may be contacted at the Department of History, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 96822. E-mail address: andaya@hawaii.edu.


Leonard Y. Andaya

important reason for the late entry of Europeans in Batak lands was the fact that, from the beginning of sustained European involvement in the area in the sixteenth century until the establishment of plantation and other export industries in the nineteenth century, European orientation was toward the sea and the coastal polities. With hindsight it is easy for historians to see that the Batak were fortunate in avoiding the Europeans in these early centuries. Yet European involvement often resulted in the keeping of records and the accumulation of written materials which have been crucial in the reconstruction of the history of many Southeast Asian societies.3 The lack of a European presence in the Batak lands until the nineteenth century has meant that historians have had very limited or no access to any contemporary European accounts of the Batak in the pre-modern period. The ethnonym 'Batak' is very likely an ancient name, but no one has been able to give a satisfactory meaning of the term.4 Perhaps the very first time that the name appears in written sources is in the Zhufan zhi, written by Zhao Rugua, Inspector of Foreign Trade in Fujian, sometime in the mid-thirteenth century. It mentions a dependency of San-fo-tsi (Srivijaya) called Ba-ta, which may be a reference to 'Batak' (Hirth and Rockhill 1966:35,62,66).5 The next definite identification of Batak comes from Tome Pires' Suma Oriental, which was written in Melaka sometime between 1512 and 1515. It mentions the kingdom of Bata, bordered on one side by the kingdom of Pasai and the other by the kingdom of Aru (Cortesao 1990, 1:145). From the sixteenth century onward, references to the Batak as inhabitants of the interior of north Sumatra, and also

For the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the official records of the Portuguese and Spanish overseas enterprise, plus the many accounts found in the collections of the Catholic Orders in Portugal, Spain, France, and the Vatican, have been valuable for historians. For the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the archives of the European trading companies have proved useful. The most valuable are the voluminous records of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) housed in the National Archives in The Hague. They date from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and have been used by historians to reconstruct the early modern history of many parts of Southeast Asia. 4 In the literature on the Batak, one of the most common explanations for this ethnonym is that Muslims used it to refer to 'pig-eaters'. Rita Kipp cites other possible derivations provided by her informants: from the Sanskrit bhata or bhrta, meaning 'mercenary, soldier, warrior, hireling, servant', because of their functions in the past; and 'savage' or 'bumpkin' (Kipp 1996:27). It is tempting to define 'Batak' as 'human beings', which is a common definition of ethnonyms of many indigenous groups around the world. The Batek on the Malay Peninsula, for example, gloss their name as 'human beings'. Despite the lexical similarity, unfortunately there is no link between the two terms, because 'Batek' is from an Austro-Asiatic language, while 'Batak' is Austronesian. There is an Austronesian-speaking group called 'Batak' in Palawan in the Philippines, but no meaning is known for the term. 5 Travellers, including Marco Polo at the end of the thirteenth century, refer to certain groups who are cannibals in Sumatra without providing the names of such people. One should nevertheless exercise caution in believing stories of 'cannibalism' because of the practice in medieval Europe for travellers' tales to depict 'monstrous races' in lands beyond their known world.

The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' of certain kingdoms along the northeast coast, become more frequent. Today, the Batak groups are listed as the Karo, the Simalungun, the PakpakDairi, the Toba, and the Angkola-Mandailing. It was the Europeans who first placed these clusters of communities in and around Lake Toba who spoke a similar dialect and shared customs under one rubric, the Toba. Following this usage, I will apply the term 'Toba' in this essay to the communities living on Samosir and the lands surrounding Lake Toba, including those of Silindung. There is a growing tendency to use the word 'Batak' to refer solely to the Toba, since many of the other groups prefer to be regarded as non-Batak and as Mandailing, Karo, Simalungun, and so on, in the ongoing process of redefinition of ethnic groups. In the nineteenth century, however, the term 'Batak' appears to have been applied to all these different groups. In writing this essay, I have been very much aware of the uneven distribution of source materials. Any systematic study of the Batak began with the arrival of European missionaries in the nineteenth century. With the penetration of the area by the Dutch colonial administration later in the century, more studies were commissioned and travel reports published in governmental and scholarly journals. The continuing presence of German and Dutch missionaries and teachers in north Sumatra has assured an ongoing literature on various aspects of Batak society, particularly its religious beliefs. In addition, Indonesian government encouragement of local culture in the 1970s and ethnic chauvinism and pride since the 1990s have fostered Indonesian and local scholarship on Batak society. For the period before the nineteenth century, there have been a few archaeological studies, particularly by E. Edwards McKinnon and John Miksic, which have considerably advanced our understanding of early settlements in the Batak areas. Nevertheless, much still needs to be done to gain a more comprehensive understanding of northern Sumatran communities for the first 1800 years AD. With the unevenness of the sources in terms of both period and content, I was confronted with a historiographical problem. Would it be possible to reconstruct the history of an area on the basis of sources which pre- and post-date the events themselves? Should a historian undertake such a task as a legitimate historical enterprise? Both questions I have answered in the affirmative, but with certain reservations. In the following pages I attempt to provide a historical overview of economic and political events in the region of the Straits of Melaka as a basis for suggesting a Batak response to such events. This reconstruction is based on archaeological findings, as well as nineteenth- and twentieth-century compilations of origin tales of the various Batak marga.6 I have also drawn on a knowledge of the better-documented


In Batak social organization the marga is one of the basic kinship units and traces descent to a single male ancestor. Membership of a marga is determined patrilineally, with children of

in order to discuss the Batak situation. path'. rather than the current 'Melayu'. Many have focused on the economic benefits to both sexes belonging to the marga of their father. or the people of Malayu. one relationship and the same origin1 (B. A clear discussion of the different positions in the debate on ethnicity can be found in Cornell and Hartmann 1998. In the PalembangJambi area the term marga was used for a lineage group. The people of this kingdom would have thus been orang Malayu.8 A factor noted in the formation of ethnic identity is the desire to maximize the advantages of the group. Minangkabau. Andaya neighbouring communities of the Malayu7 (Malay). One of the analytical tools that I use is ethnicity. party. road. if new materials come to light. 8 For a good introduction to the study of ethnicity. the people who spoke the Malayu language and adhered to a culture developed during the Srivijaya/Malayu period would have been regarded as 'Malayu'. therefore. In the Old Malayu inscription at Talang Tuwo in Palembang from the seventh century. Gonda is not totally convinced of Van der Tuuk's derivation of the term marga from the Sanskrit varga. meaning 'company. people of one inclination. that the Batak marga stems from the Sanskrit term marga. It is likely. 7 Throughout this essay I have decided to use the alternative spelling 'Malayu'. There has been a considerable amount of literature written on ethnicity. as well as groups in the region confronted with similar conditions as the Batak. however. A useful and thoughtful synthesis of the issues raised in the study of ethnicity can be found in Kipp . I believe that this essay has advanced certain ideas that may be worth investigating further. and Acehnese. and thirty years' experience in researching and writing about societies in the region. The result is a historical reconstruction that combines available documentary evidence. as well as groups that have developed from the original unit. the Sanskrit term marga is used to mean 'way' (Gonda 1973: 129-30. and some of the reconstructed scenarios may eventually prove wrong. Andaya 1993:17). I hope that scholars will view this venture as a genuine attempt to advance the study of a society whose pre-modern history has been shrouded in mystery for far too long. The aim of most of these studies has been to determine the factors which contribute to the formation of ethnic identity. principally by sociologists and anthropologists. 205). Nevertheless. see Eriksen 1993. historical imagination. In short. in order to be consistent with archaeologists' rendering of the name of the earliest Sumatran kingdom as 'Malayu'. meaning 'way. When the Dutch in the early nineteenth century asked a Palembang man what 'marga' meant. There is evidence that some of the marga are of mixed origin and have been formed by in-migrants joining with the local population. Even after the demise of Malayu. group1. he replied: 'One road. This derivation appears to have been retained in later centuries.370 Leonard Y. The marga can represent an ancient grouping. but argue that such sentiments are in fact constantly undergoing change in response to specific circumstances. In the past there were those who argued that each group recognized certain 'primordial' elements as the core of their identity. or if historiographical methods become further refined in the future. More and more. I have tried to proceed with caution. while others claimed that each ethnic community is the outcome of specific historical circumstances and situations. studies have taken the middle ground and acknowledged the importance of 'primordial' sentiments.

Edmund Leach's classic 1954 study of the Kachin in Burma reveals the ease with which a Kachin could become Shan and a Shan Kachin through a preference for one over another form of social system (Leach 1954). dress. a conceptual subject. Basic to the notion of ethnic identity is the fact that ethnic consciousness arises through contact with others who are different. The reluctance of historians to engage the concept of ethnicity in their studies has resulted in an unreflective acceptance of ethnic communities as somehow fixed forever in time. religion. rather than the 'cultural elements' contained within such boundaries (Barth 1969:11). historians are still to be convinced of the value of 'ethnicity' as a useful or even valid historical pursuit. Barth suggests that one focus on 'boundaries'. 10 The term 'invention of traditions' comes from Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983. They may share the Comaroffs' concern at the lack of agreement on whether ethnicity is an analytic object. O'Connor argues that ecological adaptation. A view with less emphasis on the material and more on the psychological advantages is Horowitz's idea of 'group entitlement'.would be the significant ethnic marker or 'boundary' (Kipp 1996:19). According to Horowitz. particularly in Southeast Asia. and agricultural techniques are significant shifts which can explain the so-called 'rise' and 'fall' of ethnic groups (O'Connor 1995:987). 9 Nevertheless. both excellent sources for historians interested in ethnicity. language. 226-7).for example.10 While social scientists have been at the forefront of such studies. or even not particularly new. how a group defines and continues to maintain itself against another can be far more revealing of ethnic identity than obvious outward signs such as dress. not a property of a group' (Eriksen 1993:11-2). Yet anthropological studies have demonstrated the fluidity and complexity of ethnic identities. 371 . Rita Kipp rightfully points out that the outsider still has the task of determining which of the 'differences' .The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' be gained from creating a particular ethnic unity. Equally wellknown is Benedict Anderson's term 'imagined communities' from his book of the same name (B. Once difference is established. As mentioned. or even language. the literature on ethnicity is vast and the approaches greatly varied. Among the insights of particular relevance for this essay are: (1) contact 1996:17-24. In other words.9 An ethnic group then creates legitimacy and group loyalty through the process of 'inventing traditions' and 'imagining communities'. or other . nations invented traditions or found commonalities in order to emphasize their shared identity and hence unity. it is necessary to exploit this difference through the establishment of ethnic markers or boundaries. language. Anderson 1983). Viewing the ethnic problem from a different perspective. or both (Comaroff and Comaroff 1992:49). a group's enhancement of status and prestige in the eyes of others serves to bolster the individual's own sense of pride and self-worth (Horowitz 1985:185. Historians have yet to contribute much to this literature. 'ethnicity is essentially an aspect of a relationship. with the one major exception of Smith 1986 and Smith and Hutchinson 1996. As Eriksen explains. food. These scholars focused on the manner in which new.

Location of camphor and benzoin forests (from Perret 1995) .Benzoin Camphor 60 km Map 1.

I have attempted to describe the process of 'ethnicization' of the Batak. Dryander) trade provided the first. The last part of the essay then suggests which boundaries were erected by the ethnicized 'Batak' as part of a strategy to maximize economic advantage and emphasize their unique self-worth. and so I am basing my assumption on linguistic evidence.) and benzoin {Styrax benzoin. I am grateful to K.A. 373 The camphor and benzoin trade The camphor (Dryobalanops aromatica Gaetn. I will assume that the inhabitants were ancestors of the group that came to be identified in later centuries as the Batak. and (3) certain ethnic markers are emphasized. new ideas. though indirect. less well documented but equally revealing have been the historical ethnic shifts between the Batak and the Minangkabau. and the Batak and the Acehnese. and new products. These insights are useful in assessing historical inter-group relations within Sumatra. a significant question that must be asked is why there should have been a need for a larger ethnic identity in the first place (Kahn 1993:15). (2) the group is created to promote its advantage. In an effort to seek an answer. I use this term to indicate a deliberate decision by the Batak to emphasize their ethnicity for a particular advantage. Before examining these ethnic shifts. I argue. much of the spread of Western Malayo-Polynesian languages occurred after 1500-1000 BC and included the Malayic speakers. where borderlands provide the opportunity for individuals to move in and out of ethnicities.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' with another group is essential to ethnic consciousness. Linguists rightfully warn against equating language with language speakers. Unless more conclusive evidence is presented on the ethnicity of the group that occupied the Toba highlands. 11 . Adelaar for his informed comments on this subject.n International trade. by ethnicizing their Batak identity. and 'imagined' to provide the primordial sentiments for group solidarity. The interior redistribution centres and the international marketplaces on the coasts exposed the Batak to new peoples. both real and fictive. evidence of Batak partiThere is no archaeological evidence to reconstruct early habitation of this area. though personal and environmental reasons also contributed to the out-migration. Evidence of ethnic shifts from Batak to Malayu and vice versa has been noted by both Milner (1982) and Perret (1995). On the basis of origin tales and linguistic evidence. In searching for economic advantage in the highly competitive market environment. According to linguists. I have assumed that the Batak occupied the area around Lake Toba in the interior of northern Sumatra in the first millennium AD (Bellwood 1997:122). There was an earlier spread of Western Malayo-Polynesian languages which included those of the Batak and the Gayo of northern Sumatra. since an earlier population could adopt the language of a newcomer. was a major catalyst in the movement of Batak from the Toba highlands towards both coasts. they sought support among their kinfolk.f. 'invented'.

a nineteenth-century report estimates that between a half and 15 kati (280 grams to 8. but the most frequently mentioned in pharmaceutical and botanical literature is the Styrax benzoin (Katz 1998:243-5). and one picul (56 kilograms) of camphor would cost 4000 guilders. 13 Though no comparative prices are available for this period. and rheumatic pains' (Marsden 1966:153). It grows at altitudes of 60 to more than 365 metres above sea level on well-drained soils and often on steep ridges. and as a prophylactic against the disease-bearing warm winds'. and in Srivijaya between the seventh and eleventh century. eye disease. and later came to replace it as a permanent.) in southern China by the sixth century. and Europe (Wolters 1969:111). with rosewater and sandalwood. camphor and benzoin were difficult to obtain. intestinal discomfort. Andaya cipation in international commerce.. Camphor crystallizes in the wood of the tree from an oleoresin present in the tree itself and accumulates irregularly in the cavities of the trunk.374 Leonard Y. as an astringent. Persia. and bulimia. and so on (Ptak 1998:138). a tributary of the Singkil River. colds. reaching a height of between sixty and seventy metres. and was an important ingredient.]' (Marsden 1966:155). The camphor tree is one of the largest of the dipterocarps in western Indonesia. camphor was used against all types of pain and against typhoid. 14 Among the Chinese.13 Benzoin was regarded as a substitute for myrrh (Commiphora tnukul Engl. 12 . and obviate the pernicious effects of unwholesome air or noxious exhalations [. Camphor and benzoin trees grow in the areas of northern Sumatra now occupied by the Batak (Wolters 1969:111-2. swellings. a considerable sum in the nineteenth century (Zeijlstra 1913:826). Western Asia. rheumatism. where it is prescribed as a remedy for a variety of conditions. and parts of India it was used as an incense 'to expel troublesome insects.38 kilograms) could be collected per tree. According to a ninth-century Nestorian physician to six caliphs. Benzoin trees grow in the same areas and under similar conditions. The Sumatrans and Europeans treated camphor as a medicine. valuable commodity in China. It was also used in medicines for gum and eye infections. which further contributed to the high prices they could command in the marketplace. Among the Persians it was used as a cure for headaches.12 Camphor was a highly prized luxury item and so valued in China that it was placed on a par with gold (Donkin 1999:127). in a solution washed on walls during plagues or epidemics (Stephan 1998:234-9). In Arabia. in the Arab lands camphor was regarded as one of the five basic aromatics.230-1). nasal polyps.124-5. There is an extensive description of its value from the tenth century. northward to Sidikalang (see map 1). These conditions are met in the Batak lands between Singkel and Air Bangis in northwest Sumatra. In addition to their muchvaunted medical qualities as a cure for a host of illnesses and complaints14.. They are found in clumps from the north of Padang Sidempuan to the area around Tarutung. The Styrax paralleloneurum produces a betterquality benzoin. Benzoin was used in China as an incense to expel demons and attract benevolent spirits. These forest resins were among the products in greatest demand at the major port-cities in the Straits of Melaka from the early fifth century. Only after twelve years does the The resin comes from a variety of species. from 'warding off poisonous cholera' to preventing involuntary emissions by males' (Wolters 1969:118-9). using it for 'strains. as well as in three locations from the mountain valley of the Lai Cinendang.

indicating the growing value of the product in China. therefore. 233. the finest quality could only be obtained in the first three years of tapping. It also implies that there was very likely an increase in the export of camphor from Indonesia (Wolters 1969:2301.W. It is believed that the latter is somewhere on the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula. there is a reference to camphor coming from both Funan and Langyaxiu. Writing in the late eighteenth century. A Srivijayan inscription placed at Ligor (Nakhon Si Thammarat) in AD 775 indicates an expansion of Srivijayan power across the Straits of Melaka. even with the aid of religious practitioners and adherence to strict taboos. Through a series of campaigns Srivijaya overcame its competitors and became the dominant entrepot in the area. Camphor was presumably collected by Batak men under a special leader known in later centuries as pawang. By the latter part of the eighth century. William Marsden claimed that not even 10% of all trees cut down yielded any crystallized resin or camphor oil (Marsden 1966:150). Wolters has shown that camphor and benzoin were appearing in China. Nevertheless. Coedes and Damais 1992). O. A consequence of. 1:876-81). The supply route from these forests to Srivijaya went 375 . though some believe that it began as late as the eighth or even the ninth century (Katz 1998:259). The increased demand for camphor and benzoin was met by Srivijaya. In the annals of the Liang dynasty. expeditions were not always successful.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' tree produce the camphor. and perhaps even an important motivation for. this expansion would have been the control of camphor supplies from the Isthmus and the Malay Peninsula.184). but stopped producing after about ten to twelve years. The export of benzoin to China may have begun as early as the fifth century. since it did not produce the Dryobalanops aromatica variety brought into China (Ptak 1998:137). Srivijaya may have succeeded in monopolizing the sale of camphor and benzoin in the region. Benzoin trees were tapped for their resin after seven years. 235-7). After that the quality deteriorated. which ruled China from 502 to 556. While it may have been easier to collect. But by the eighth century camphor was being included in the tribute to the Chinese emperor from non-Indonesian rulers. A major source of Srivijayan camphor and benzoin was the forests in northwest Sumatra. though not in any sizeable quantities. hence its market value lowered (Marsden 1966:154-5. including the use of a special camphor language. whose spiritual prowess was employed in locating the elusive commodity. a kingdom founded in the late seventh century on the Musi River in Palembang (Wolters 1969:246-9. India and the Middle East by the early sixth century. Funan must have imported and redistributed the camphor. Srivijaya's incursion into the Malay Peninsula would have prevented the further export of camphor to ports on the Mekong Delta. with the oldest trees supplying the greatest quantity and others yielding nothing at all (Burkill 1966. while the civilization of Funan was centred in the south of modern Cambodia.

Areas to the south of Lake Toba .MELAKA STRAIT TOBA : SILINDUNG ' • Tarutun PADANG LAWAS Panyabungan INDIAN MAKhOAILING Hutan ° P a n > V _ 1 > Muara Sipong OCE/AN vZ^ Pariamanjf Q Ps V U w Singkamk Map 2.

One of the southern routes went via Padang Sidempuan to the valley of the Batang Angkola. as well as along the upper reaches of rivers such as the Panai and Bila (Miksic 1979:97. 'they esteem their most exquisite meat. There were again two alternative routes leading from Bonjol to Buo. From available evidence it appears that cargo was carried by men on their backs travelling on foot along narrow footpaths. From the Angkola valley the route continued southward through Bonan Dolok to Penyabungan and Hutanopari in the Batang Gadis valley. and pay great attention to their keep' (Marsden 1966:381).106). it is difficult to find evidence of horses being used to transport export products. Andaya 1993:102). and for this purpose feed them upon grain. Even as late as the mid-nineteenth century the Dutch linguist Van der Tuuk recalled an evening when he hosted half a dozen Toba Batak in Barus who had transported their cargo of benzoin on their backs (Nieuwenhuys 1962:46). according to Marsden. From Rao one could go directly to Muara Takus in the valley of the Batang Mahat. a tributary of the Sungei Rokan Kiri. as well as two alternative routes southward. from which place it was possible to reach the headwaters of the Batang Hari. From here there was a route leading directly to Barus. which flowed down along the JambiPalembang border. Though horses are mentioned as an item of trade. Such precious ani- 377 . One such route followed the tributary Tembesi River. The Batak most likely transferred the products to the Minangkabau. a tributary of the Kampar Kanan. The method used to transport the camphor and benzoin in earlier centuries is not mentioned explicitly in the sources. Another possibility was to use the tributaries linked by land routes leading from the Jambi River to the Musi River in Palembang. But the more frequently used route passed through the valley of the Batang Sumpur.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' to Padang Lawas via Sipirok and the valley of the Batang Toru (see map 2). Nevertheless. From the Batang Hari the goods could be sold to the Malayu downriver and then transported by sea to Srivijaya. Such trails were found on the summits of the Batak highlands. Padang Lawas appears to have been a collecting centre. which is the major river through Jambi (Edwards McKinnon 1984. It then crossed the mountains at Muara Sipongi to Rao. Marsden writes that there were numerous horses in the Batak lands and that the Batak supplied many to Bengkulen. they kept their finest for ritual purposes and apparently as special delicacies for their festivals: 'Horse-flesh'. while the other passed near Sibuhuan in Padang Lawas across the mountains into the Angkola valley near Si Abu. 2:340-2). and then through Tanjung Medan and Lubuk Sikaping via Bonjol into Minangkabau territory. Miksic describes a series of footpaths which ran from the interior along the hills to both the east and west coasts. From Ulu (upriver) Tembesi it was only eight days' travel to Palembang and about twelve to Jambi (B. who then completed the journey through their own lands downriver to the Malayu in Srivijaya.

Barus and Kota Cina The location of the Tamil inscription dated 1088 from Lobu Tua near Barus is the strongest evidence so far for Barus' return to prominence after the late seventh century. The Lobu Tua inscription refers to the guild 'having met at the velapuram in Varocu. the Tamil homeland in southern India.]'. on the other hand.15 Although Srivijaya recovered and reconstituted the kingdom on the Batang Hari River in Jambi. . interprets 'pattinam' as designating Barus as a commercial centre of the first 15 Edwards McKinnon (1996:88) suggests that the Tamil merchant guild may have been the instigator of Cola intervention in Srivijaya territories. which enjoyed the patronage of the Cola dynasty in Tamil Nadu. the temporary weakness of Srivijaya and its Jambi successor.. Two of the most important of these alternative ports were Barus and Kota Cina. In 1025 the southern Indian kingdom of the Colas launched an attack and subdued Srivijaya and its dependencies along the Straits of Melaka. the Ayyavole-500 (The Five Hundred of the Thousand Directions'). For nearly four centuries Srivijaya controlled the trade in forest products in the region. the name Srivijaya disappeared from the records and was replaced in the eleventh century by that of an entity known as 'Malayu'. Subbarayalu (1998:30-3) believes that the former refers to the harbour. By the end of the eleventh century the guild in India had begun to include several ethnolinguistic groups among its ranks and had become established in a number of coastal towns. The inscription was erected by a Tamil merchant guild. Andaya mals would most likely not have been used as beasts of burden. after the late eleventh century this privilege emerged as a regular pattern.] pattinam [. enabled several polities to emerge as suppliers of camphor and benzoin. with a view to gaining economic advantage in the increasingly profitable international trade flowing through the Straits of Melaka. Srivijaya continued to maintain its overlordship into the thirteenth century. also called the [.. but there is a difference of opinion about the meaning of the terms velapuram and pattinam. Although its secondary centres and feeder ports had always had some direct trade with foreign merchants. Nevertheless. This development was tolerated as long as the vassal areas did not challenge Srivijaya's orientation away from the trans-shipment trade to the direct export trade in Indian Ocean commodities (Soo 1998:306-8). Following the Cola invasion. as well as the increasing volume of Indian Ocean trade. Christie (1998:257).. while the latter describes the town itself.. Malayu.378 Leonard Y. Its success as a major entrepot to traders from around the world aroused the envy of other major kingdoms seeking economic dominance in the area. 'Varocu' is the name for Barus.

Since musk does not occur in the Barus area. was located in northeast Sumatra.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' rank. Tengku Luckman 1986:39. it was not a major port for the export of camphor to China.17 As an international port. Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries Asahan.18 The strong Chinese trade in camphor and benzoin was most likely focused on another port located on the northeast coast bearing the revealing name Kota Cina ('Chinese Stockade'). 17 In Sanskrit the word 'kasturi' refers to musk. rather than to Barus itself. could have been the name of an earlier centre which later moved to the town of Barus. and 'velapurarrC as referring to the enclave of Lobu Tua as a trading settlement of secondary rank. 18 This may account for Edwards McKinnon's speculation. meaning 'the old abandoned settlement'. Ptak (1998:139-40) believes that. 20 Pulau Kompei on Aru Bay is another important place on the northeast Sumatran coast which produced trade ceramics in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. that the site was abandoned at about the time of the foundation of Kota Cina (Edwards McKinnon 1996:89). on the same coast. Fujian and Zhejiang. . and Aru from the late thirteenth to the early seventeenth century. On the same coast flourished Panai between the tenth and fourteenth centuries. According to Tengku Luckman. which sent a mission to China in the seventh century. Camphor from Barus could command such high prices that Batak collectors working on the right bank of the Singkel River in the sixteenth century did not sell their product at the nearby port of Singkel. 220. became a prominent kingdom and an outlet for products from the Batak interior (Nik Hassan Shuhaimi 1984:110. Wolters 1969:187. 19 The name originates from a common practice among'the Chinese to create a fortified enclosure to protect themselves and their goods while awaiting a shift in monsoon winds before resuming their journey to India (Miksic 1996:292). that is. and Tengku Luckman 1978: 18-9. Subbarayalu has suggested that the term may have been used to refer symbolically to aromatics in general (Subbarayalu 1998:31-2. suggest that Aru and Deli were different names for the same place. do not indicate a regular trade contact between west-coast Sumatra and the southern Chinese ports of Guangdong. information from the tenth to the fourteenth century. 'Lobu Tua'. based on Chinese ceramic evidence at Lobu Tua. to 379 16 Joustra explains that 'lobu' means 'abandoned settlement' (Joustra 1910:28). This is probably the site of the Kompei mentioned in Chinese sources as having sent a mission to China in AD 662. Hirosue 1988:40-1). Wolters has suggested that 'P'o-lo'. Direct overland routes from the nearby camphor forests directly to Barus helped assure the city's reputation as a reliable supplier of that prized commodity. the kingdom of Serdang then split off from the from the old Deli kingdom in the seventeenth century. Song and Yuan texts. though its core inhabitants may have been Batak. Barus would have had a mixed population. 193. Edwards McKinnon.16 Permission was required for admission to the city.19 Chinese traders were more familiar with Sumatra's northeast coast and the Straits of Melaka20 and would presumably have gone to Kota Cina. and prices in the trade in aromatics (kasturi) were calculated in gold. but took it to the more distant port of Barus (Miksic 1979:94). Edwards McKinnon 1996:91). though Barus was frequented by Indians and other traders from the west. Milner. Milner et al.

Located some three to four miles from the port of Belawan Deli. and Lobu Tua. Moreover. it was once accessible to sea-going ships (Edwards McKinnon 1984. judging by the 'tens of thousands of Chinese porcelain sherds' from between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries found on the site (Miksic 2000:111). A provisional reading of the Tamil inscription found at Neusu appears to refer to trade regulations. Edwards McKinnon argues that Kota Cina was predominantly a Tamil trading settlement established by merchants like those responsible for the Lobu Tua inscription in Barus.000 inhabitants by the middle of the twelfth century (Edwards McKinnon 1996:89. and a possible temple foundation at Kota Kandis on the Batang Hari are located on a major route between the resin forests in the Batak lands and Srivijaya/Malayu. Andaya obtain forest resins. nor any archaeological context provided. the Chinese were also a major presence in the city. and Kota Kandis on the Batang Hari in Jambi (Edwards McKinnon 1996:87). Buo (West Sumatra). in the Minangkabau highlands. Nevertheless. the bronze imagery. and grew from a small village into a large settlement of some 10. Miksic 1996:292). Lhok Cut (Aceh). Kota Cina was inhabited between the late eleventh and the fourteenth century.380 Leonard Y. while. Although Miksic stresses the Chinese component of the settlement. Bahal 1 (Tapanuli Selatan in the Padang Lawas area). So far there are three known Tamil settlements in Kota Cina. near Suruaso. is indicative of the economic importance of the Tamil community for whom they were built (Edwards McKinnon 1987:86-7). The rise of Kota Cina should be viewed in the context of Tamil trading activity in Sumatra in this period. near the confluence of the Belawan River (known also as Hamparan Perak or Buluh Cina) and the Deli River. The existence of permanent religious structures. including a Siva sanctuary and a Buddhist vihara. the nearby site of Lhok Cut is believed to be the remains of an eleventh-century port. It is noteworthy that the Tamilinspired Buo inscription. Other Tamil inscriptions reinforce the view of a fairly extensive Tamil trade involvement in Sumatra. The ruined site was mentioned by John Anderson on his trip to east-coast Sumatra in the early nineteenth century and was only 'rediscovered' in 1972 (J. 1:9). thirteenth century). Two further Tamil inscriptions dating from the second half of the thirteenth century have been found. Anderson 1971:294). The first is a late thirteenth-century inscription found at Batu (or Bandar) Bapahat. there would have been the added attraction of gold from the nearby mines in such areas as the Bohorok and Pengkuruan Rivers. some fifty kilometres west of present-day Medan (Nik Hassan Shuhaimi 1984:109-10). the inscription may relate to the Minangkabau trade in camphor . The existence of Song and Yuan sherds in interior sites in Kota Bangun and Deli Tua appears to support this contention. and possible settlements at Neusu (Aceh. Though no transcription or translation has been made.

22 Soo (1998:296) m e n t i o n s K a m p a r a n d L a m u r i . Satyawati (1977:9) suggests that Adityavarman moved his centre to the Minangkabau highlands in order to control the gold and camphor trade via the Kampar and Batang Hari Rivers.22 The economic opportunities offered by Barus and Kota Cina as alternative sources of camphor and benzoin encouraged the Batak to move toward both the east and west coasts in order to profit more directly from international trade. Though Kota Cina may have been the dominant port on the northeast coast. across the Straits in Kedah. archaeological evidence seems to support the belief that Kota Cina was the dominant port during its existence. .21 The second inscription is from Porlak Dolok near Paringginan in the Padang Lawas area and dates from either 1258 or 1265. It is apparent that Kota Cina. The sustained Tamil economic activity in north and west Sumatra from the eleventh to the fourteenth century provided the economic stimulus for the increasing participation of the Batak communities in the camphor and benzoin trade. These products continued to be transported southward to the entrepots in Malayu.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' and gold. From what can be inferred from a very damaged text. too. there were other possible outlets for Batak goods in this period. though difficult because of the rough and broken 21 381 The main Minangkabau gold-producing areas are located in Tanah Datar. served principally as a depot for the supply of fresh water and Sumatran forest products. the inscription commemorates an offering made by the ruler as a meritorious act (Christie 1998:259-63). Leong believes they were mainly a place for loading and offloading ships. b u t o t h e r possible p o r t s w e r e P u l a u K o m p e i . The area of South Kedah was a site for two important centres based at Kampung Sungai Mas from the ninth century and at Pengkalan Bujang from the end of the eleventh century to approximately the beginning of the fourteenth century 0acq-Hergoualc'h 1992:300). whose cargoes were then redistributed on the Peninsula (Leong 1990:29). The founding of Kota Cina was not an isolated event but was part of the historical oscillation in the Straits between a single dominant entrepot and a number of smaller dispersed ports exporting the products of their immediate interior. Based on recent archaeological explorations in Singapore. the main route to the east coast from the valley of the Sinamar around Buo and the Sumpur around Sumpur Kudus was by water or land to the headwaters of the Indragiri River and then overland to the headwaters of a tributary of the Kampar Kiri (Dobbin 1983:60-1). Miksic believes that Kota Cina may have been simply one of a number of similartype settlements along the Straits of Melaka. Contemporary with Kota Cina was a similar port at Pengkalan Bujang. but by the late eleventh century most of the supplies were going to Barus and Kota Cina. and Panai. According to Dobbin. to the north of the Merbok River. on Aru Bay. Though Jacq-Hergoualc'h considers these two sites to have been entrepot ports. which came to include Singapore (circa 1300) and Melaka (beginning of the fifteenth century) (Miksic 2000:1112). A trans-insular route. Nevertheless.

There was therefore an increase in the numbers of Batak beginning to settle along the new trade routes. Sianjur Mulamula. to the Silindung valley. 23 . and then westward to the coast (see map 2) (Situmorang 1993:41-2). including Sangti 1977. Keuning 1953/54. Pusuk Buhit is considered to be the birthplace of their common ancestor. Economic opportunities. It m u s t b e e m p h a s i z e d here that reasons for emigration of individuals a n d g r o u p s vary considerably.24 Perret points out. however. Perret infers.382 Leonard Y. The process is known among the Toba Batak as marserak.23 According to marga origin tales. to the highlands west of the lake (Humbang). Expansion of the Batak world The Toba area is said to have been populated by people migrating from the legendary first Batak village. As I hope to show. In subsequent periods emigration from the Toba lands continued to occur in response to economic conditions. the circumstantial evidence suggests that the Toba area may indeed have been a major centre for later out-migrating Batak to both coasts and southward to the present-day Minangkabau homeland. Andaya terrain. which originally denoted migration within the territories of one's marga or into lands not yet occupied by other marga. Wilier 1846. De Boer 1922. From here groups left and settled the series of valleys along the west coast of Lake Toba and then the southern shores of the lake (Toba-Holbung) in search of rice-growing lands similar to those found in their homeland. They later fanned out to the island of Samosir. As a result of the economic opportunities provided by Kota Cina and other east-coast Sumatran ports between the eleventh and fourteenth centuT h e m e a n i n g of marserak h a s n o w e x p a n d e d to refer to economic a n d social mobility. 24 This statement is based on genealogical stories contained in a n u m b e r of sources. N e u m a n n 1926.H. Si Raja Batak. and the home of the most powerful deities. provided a safer alternative to the sea voyage from the west coast around Aceh into the Straits. that most European commentators place the origin of the Batak peoples somewhere south of the Lake. Van Dijk 1895. however. the point of dispersal was in the Toba homeland (specifically the island of Samosir and the areas to the west and south of Lake Toba) and the Pakpak region west of the lake (see map 3). Hoetagaloeng 1926. may have influenced later marga origin tales which acknowledge the Toba lands as the point of origin of their group. situated on the slopes of the sacred Pusuk Buhit on the western shore of Lake Toba. O t h e r w o r d s are currently in u s e t o describe different types of m i g r a t i o n (Purba a n d P u r b a 1997:22-5). Their reports. h a v e always been a major pull factor in migration. such as n e w trade possibilities. where the German mission was strongest (Perret 1995:56. a n d J. 60).

Edwards McKinnon suggests that the n a m e of the village Portibi' (Batak for 'region or q u a r t e r ) m a y derive from the Sanskrit pertiwi. referring to a centre of power. What is noteworthy is that the area of the Karo homeland in the Pakpak districts is in close proximity to the camphor and benzoin forests. The shortest route from the Karo highlands to Kota Cina was via the Cingkem pass and then either down the Serdang River (known in Karo as Lau Tawang) or the Deli River (in Karo. These routes encour25 383 See Perret 1995:37. . were often located near the border between the highlands and the coastal plains and 'may reflect some function in regulating intercourse between highland and lowland groups' (Miksic 1979:97. as well as the paths leading to the Alas and Gayo lands. A focus of many of these routes.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' ries. Miksic 1979:254). 22-4.1987:11. across the Karo plateau.1:30-1). South of Lake Toba one of the earliest trans-insular routes led from Sibolga on the west coast. In the nineteenth century the most important market for the Karo and Simalungun continued to be on this well-frequented trade route (Westenberg 1905:603). down to Kota Cina and the east coast (Edwards McKinnon 1996:69. which in turn acknowledges an origin in Toba (Sinaga 1996:46-7). In the P a d a n g Lawas area there are two villages n a m e d Portibi: Portibi Jae (Downriver Portibi) and Portibi Julu (Upriver Portibi). Lau Buaya) to the area of Seribudolok on the border between the present-day Karo and Simalungun lands. Batak groups moved eastward from the Lake Toba and Pakpak regions using a number of routes.25 The thriving trade in forest products encouraged the establishment of settlements along the major routes which led from the camphor and benzoin forests through passes in trie Bukit Barisan mountains and finally down the rivers to Kota Cina. was the village of Seberaya.26 From Padang Lawas the major route southward passed through a number of valleys and towns to Rao. 103). But the easiest route from the highlands was via the Buaya pass. Many of the sites from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries are located inland. through a low pass in the mountains. 26 In support of this claim. strategically located within a network of trails leading from the camphor. 1973:77). From Rao it was possible to go directly to Muara Takus via a tributary of the Kampar River. m a p 'Karo migrations according to tradition'. but the more used route seems to have been to Buo and then out to the Batang Hari River. Perret has drawn a useful map showing the spread of various Karo marga from their homeland in the current Pakpak districts to the present-day Karo region (see map 4). which followed the upper course of the Ular River (in Karo. to Gunung Tua and Portibi in the Padang Lawas region.and benzoin-producing forests. such as those at Padang Lawas and Muara Takus (on the upper Kampar River). their main function involving trade with the highland groups (Bronson et al. Miksic points out that ceremonial sites. which m a y have been associated with groups representing the uplands and the lowlands (Edwards McKinnon 1984. Lau Petani) to the coast (see map 5). Sinaga also cites evidence that the Karo trace their roots to the Pakpak area.

Aceh Pgmatangsiantar Tanjungbalai 60 km Map 3. Early Toba migrations according to traditions collected by Vergouwen (from Perret 1995) .

In the nineteenth century a Dutchman reported seeing in the neighbourhood of Kota Gelugur. He explained that the inscribed stone was intended as a commemorative tablet in honour of the first village heads. In addition. on the Kampar River. Karo migrations according to tradition (from Perret 1995) aged the migration of peoples from the area of Lake Toba southward into the region that later came to be associated with the Angkola-Mandailing groups (J. which .B. with increased Srivijayan demand for camphor and benzoin. Neumann 1885. Neumann believes that until the middle of the thirteenth century the Batak occupied the northern half of the Pasaman Mountains (known in Batak as Dolok Pasoman). the area of Rao was once Batak but was later seized by certain Minangkabau chieftains. assumed to be Batak in origin. the lands directly east of Rao were regarded as Batak. ^ v . 2:17-8). There is also a story of an attack in the past on Muara Takus by Batak based in Kuamang. According to some Malayu traditions from Kampar. Certain unique traits suggest that the people of the area may have originated from Mandailing. which today is occupied by Malayu. - • Barusjahe Pematangsiantar INDIAN OCEAN 15 km Map 4. a stone inscribed in Batak characters. It may have begun sometime in the eighth century.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' 385 Binjei y Kutacane Medan Bangunpurba '/ j Sembiring Tarigan Peranginangin Ginting Sinuraja Barus Sitepu Lingga ^Gunungrintih . J. Migration from the Toba highlands to areas south of Lake Toba extended into regions of the Malayu and the Minangkabau.B.

two of the largest . near Padang Lawas. he argues. Only after they had been in the area for a long time did a new noble lineage arrive claiming to be linked to the legendary rulers of Minangkabau (Wilier 1846:262. 2:17-8). and the Kampar Rivers. Ideas of a single Batak ethnicity were strengthened by the fact that many of those who moved into new lands had a common origin. On the basis of genealogies collected in Portibi and Mandailing in the early nineteenth century. Wilier concluded that these areas were settled by migrants from the Toba homeland. Other origin tales collected by Batara Sangti indicate that the Lubis and the Nasution.B. dates from the time of the Minangkabau ruler Adityavarman and is believed to have marked a frontier post set up to guard against attacks from the presumably Batak kingdom of Panai (Satyawati 1977:6). Siak. Areas to the north and east of Lake Toba were the source of the Rokan. marked the southernmost border of the Batak lands. 344-5. In support of this argument. Andaya MELAKA STRAITS INDIAN OCEAN Map 5. he explains in a footnote that the word 'Pasoman' indicates 'the end of a world' (J. 400-2. The fourteenth-century Lubuk Layang inscription found on the border of South Tapanuli. Neumann 1885.386 Leonard Y. 405). These mountains.

The rivalry between the rulers of Java a n d Sumatra eventually led to the m o v e m e n t of the interior Malayu k i n g d o m even further inland to the m o u n t a i n s of the Bukit Barisan. Linn. Also claiming an origin in Toba is the Rangkuti.28 This movement of Batak people may have occurred at the time of the most intensive use of the camphor-benzoin routes to Srivijaya/Malayu and Kota Cina between the eighth and fourteenth centuries. trace their ancestors to Toba lands (Keuning 1953/54: 160-1. b u t argues that the ancestral figure. 27 387 . the Javanese k i n g d o m of Singosari u n d e r King Kertanagara attempted to assert its overlordship in the u p p e r reaches of the Batang Hari. with capitals both o n the coast a n d in the interior. There will b e those w h o reject such claims because they represent views of a partial source. and Borotan. since Batara Sangti himself is a Toba Batak. one of the oldest marga in Mandailing. Rangkuti. like the Batak. quickly absorbing or dominating the local inhabitants (Pringle 1970:249-51). to the old settlement k n o w n as Malayu.27 The Lubis marga itself acknowledges that its founding ancestor. Batara Sangti. some may take issue with these findings. rejects a n y idea of a Toba origin for t h e Nasution marga. part of the Borbor group. originated from the Toba area (Sangti 1977:129-30). moved into empty lands or into sparsely populated areas.29 Once these groups became established in their new lands. Iban migration is a well-known phenomenon which continues to the present day. This view represents a c o m m o n trend a m o n g various g r o u p s w h o stress their difference with the Toba as a w a y of emphasizing their non-Batak identity. 29 After the Cola invasion of Srivijaya in 1025. Keuning. two of the largest marga. They believe that their ancestors were from the marga Parapat. all acknowledge a Toba origin. the centre of activity shifted n o r t h w a r d to Jambi. 28 M h d . This may account for the Rangkuti's fame as the home of powerful datu (Ypes 1944:141-2). This then gave rise to the Malayu k i n g d o m in the highlands of M i n a n g k a b a u u n d e r A d i t y a v a r m a n in the fourteenth century (L. They.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' marga in Angkola-Mandailing. According to J. originally came from Toba. t w o of the largest marga in Angkola-Mandailing. Arbain Lubis. Namora Pande Bosi.) found a mass market in China. Vergouwen 1964:12). stem from ancestors in the Lake Toba region (Sangti 1977:129-30). Smaller marga in Mandailing. Si Beroar. While the Srivijayan site o n the Musi continued to exist. Parinduri. w a s indigenous to Mandailing (Lubis 1993:193-6). a m o d e r n local historian. a Toba Batak. which attracted the attention of foreign merchants. it w a s the Malayu kingdom. such as the Pulungan. In the late thirteenth century. 'the great iron-smith'. and by the seventeenth century China may have been importing between ten In the current climate of strong ethnic identification a n d pride in ethnic difference. cites genealogies to show that the Lubis a n d Nasution.30 The rise of pepper as an export commodity proved to be a new factor contributing to Batak emigration from the well-populated areas around Lake Toba. the Mandailing Godang and Mandailing Julu. whose datu are particularly feared for the potency of their black magic. 30 A similar response to economic opportunities is recorded among the Iban groups of Sarawak. where it was used in the preparation and preservation of food. A n d a y a 2001b). In about the fifteenth century black pepper (Piper nigrum. others were encouraged to join them in response to economic conditions that rose and fell in accordance with the rhythm of international trade in the Straits of Melaka.

and Asahan. when the peak of the pepper trade had already passed. the women and children were responsible for putting in support plants. Palembang. By the mid-seventeenth century. Even in the early nineteenth century. and Jambi required more and more of their subjects to plant pepper. Batak migrants willing to plant pepper would have been welcome in these Sumatran kingdoms. Because of the labour involved in growing pepper. and by 1500 was importing about twelve hundred tonnes yearly. Andaya 1993:96-7). Deli.Anderson 1971:258). Rice. He observed that in the pepper season the river at the ford in Sunggal 'is almost impassable for the multitudes of people who flock there with produce' 0. Once the men had cleared the forests and planted the pepper.5 kg) of pepper annually. 31 Bugis slaves were used to plant pepper in Jambi and Palembang in the seventeenth century because many local people refused to remain involved in the strenuous task of pepper cultivation (B. which he seized in order to gain control of the rice grown in their hinterlands mainly by Batak. at the northern tip of the island. Andaya and twelve thousand picul (1 picul = 60. The surplus rice from the extensive wet-rice (sawah) fields of the Minangkabau and the Batak in the interior of central and north Sumatra became the favoured source of supply. was available in great abundance under Sultan Iskandar Muda (Lombard 1967:73). The pepper-growers were therefore kept busy picking. He conquered other pepper-producing areas across the Straits. with a large and a minor harvest annually thereafter.388 Leonard Y. to monopolize their production (B. began to transform some of its interior areas into pepper lands. In the late seventeenth century a Chinese who lived for ten years among the Batak in the hinterland of Deli described the over-abundance of rice which the numerous inhabitants enjoyed annually (F. Anderson noted large numbers of Batak engaged in pepper production in the interior of Deli. Aceh was importing about 400 tonnes of rice from Deli alone (Hirosue 1994:21). which was ordinarily scarce in Aceh. To meet this burgeoning demand the Sumatran kingdoms of Aceh. As the powerful rulers of Aceh. Lombard 1967:66). cleaning. drying. Andaya 1993:43-6. . Some of the Batak may have been enticed to move to the hinterland of these kingdoms to participate in pepper planting. The cultivation of pepper was labour-intensive and required almost continual attention. most families could not plant rice at the same time (B. in Kedah and Perak. training the pepper vines around them. and Sultan Iskandar Muda (1607-36) expanded pepper cultivation down both coasts. Rice had to be imported to feed the families now occupied fulltime in the pepper fields. It was estimated that it took a woman an entire day to sift a picul of pepper berries. and bagging the fruit for much of the year. A major source of Aceh's supply was the east-coast polities of Tamiang. rice production in these areas declined. and Jambi increased their pepper production. The first pepper harvest came after the fourth year. Europe also became a major market for pepper. Andaya 1993:70). Palembang.31 Aceh. and weeding the root areas of the pepper vine.

and forms a principal article of their barter with the bay. were also noted for their productivity (Joustra 1910:286. Individuals became members 32 389 See also 'Nota over de Landsgroten van Deli' (unpublished manuscript owned by Tengku Sinar Luckman. the desire for safety from enemies. rice surpluses arose as a result of the extensive cultivation of sawah in the fertile valleys of the lowlands of Mandailing Godang (Groot Mandailing). thus giving rise to another movement of people from the Lake area to lands in Karo.' (Burton and Ward 1827:510. prosperity and well-being (hamoraon). The sawah fields in the Padang Lawas region. Much of the extra labour required to bring these new lands under cultivation would have come from the populous areas in the Lake Toba region with their experienced food producers. they remarked that rice and sweet potatoes were widely grown: 'The former is produced both on the hills and in the vallies in great abundance. The Purba district and some pockets adjoining Lake Toba were planted in sawah. particularly those in Ulu Barumun. Dryrice (ladang) cultivation was more typical in the highlands. benzoin. The lands in the Lake Toba region were well known as a major source of food. and skill in gaining respect (sahala hasangapon) (Purba and Purba 1997:21). and sawah in the ravines. but occupies chiefly the sides of the hills. in the valleys irrigation is employed with some ingenuity. p.) In the Karo lands sawah fields irrigated by small streams were laid out mainly in the dusun (the Karo plains from the foothills to the east coast). . family disputes. and Angkola-Mandailing. but ladang cultivation was more common (Westenberg 1905:579-80). The Simalungun areas grew ladang east of the Karei River. desire for land. As a result of the extension of the Batak world into new areas. social status (hasangapon). whereas in the highlands they were located in the ravines. While the international demand for camphor. other factors contributed to the process. with no indication of original source). 302-3). and the need to find new land for a growing population (Vergouwen 1964).32 Other more cultural motives for continuing Toba Batak migrations mentioned by modern scholars are the desire for a long life and numerous descendants (hagabeon). On the hills it is grown by the dry process. modifications in the existing marga system occurred. according to the common practice with mountain rice. and ladang in the highlands of Mandailing Julu (Klein Mandailing) (Wilier 1846:370. They were status enhancement through the founding of new villages. Simalungun. in particular rice and various types of root crops. 15. and pepper provided a major stimulus for Batak migration (marserak). The sweet potatoe grows luxuriantly in every part of the country. 373). In the lands south of Lake Toba. ability to exercise authority {sahala harajaon).The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' de Haan 1877:647-8). When the missionaries Burton and Ward visited the Silindung valley in 1824. 293.

The Karo clans. on the basis of their name. with their extended patrilineally based genealogies going back to a common mythical ancestor. Simalungun society is very much like that of the Karo in stressing the equality of the four basic marga of the Saragih. In the following century Keuning (1948:15-6) also noted the great Toba interest in and knowledge of the links among the marga. or 'the Five Marga'. 72). he argues. he found that what interested the Toba most were the long biblical genealogies (Nieuwenhuys 1962:47). Si Raja Batak. but that idea has been challenged. Damanik and Sinaga. When Van der Tuuk was translating the Old Testament into Toba Batak in the mid-nineteenth century. whereas Simalungung genealogies. Purba.390 Leonard Y. which were the oldest. for example. because it w a s found in only one ward in a village (Kipp 1996:44). Andaya of new marga through migration. for example. marriage between members of the same marga) (Ypes 1932: v). and how marga came to give rise to even larger marga. middle. . nor a 'ritual center'. rarely go beyond three generations (Clauss 1982:44). The lands now occupied by the Karo. The Karo today usually characterize their society by and base their identity on the idea of the Merga Silima. which identified this marga as the first or original Karo. Peranginangin.H. however. Sangti 1977:129-30. Rita Kipp first raised doubts about N e u m a n n ' s interpretation. the Karo emphasize the matrimonial bonds among the five major clans and the alliances created in the formation of new marga under a local mother marga (Kipp 1996:34. adoption. and youngest. Singarimbun 1975:71-6. and birth from 'incestuous' relationships (that is. Sinaga 1996:283). see. 'have no history of common origin'. and Sembiring.33 They are the marga Karo-Karo.34 Unlike the Toba. Neumann's views. J. The Toba have extensive genealogies tracing groups to the primeval ancestor. Neumann (1926:2-3) suggested that the 'original' inhabitants were a small marga. Ginting. other than the Toba. People would explain how the marga came to form a main marga. The tendency for the Batak.35 Equally striking is Singarimbun's claim that the 'Karo do not possess any myth of the origin of their own society'. Tarigan. are not descent groups. the Simalungun. Karo Sekali. 35 See also Sinaga 1996:284-7 for a description of h o w immigrants from the Toba and Pakpak areas became part of newly formed Karo marga. and ignoring the importance of long genealogical links to the founder of 33 34 Merga is the Karo term. which all claim an origin from lands to the west. which he translated as 'genuine or true Karo' (echte Karo). to downplay genealogical depth may reflect the relative newness of their marga and therefore the need to emphasize other more useful linkages than that of an ancestral lineage. seem to have been adopted by Batak authors themselves. culminating in the moieties of the Lonrung and the Sumba. and 'do not regard themselves as agnatically related to one another' (Singarimbun 1975:70. but I have used marga throughout this essay to avoid confusion. and the AngkolaMandailing offer more examples of newly formed marga than the Toba areas.

Miksic 1998:120-1). meaning 'the black one'. A continuing important source for such innovation among the Batak. there was a movement of some of the Tamil population from Barus towards the east coast. In response to the rise of Kota Cina.Colia. the foremost expert on this historical site. Berahmana. and there is an absence of any tradition of common marga territory. or ceremonies (Tarigan 1972:47. Depari. 391 Indian influence and Batak identity The Tamils were a formative influence on Batak society. has stated unequivocally: 'I now see Kota Cina as a predominantly Tamil trading settlement established by a community of merchants such as the Ainnurruvar [also known as the Ayyavole] who left an inscription at Lobu Tua' (Edwards McKinnon 1987:87). The marga do not play a very important role in Simalungun. Singarimbun 1975:78-80. Edwards McKinnon found that the Sembiring marga of the Karo established itself at strategic points along the routes leading from the west to the east coasts. Another direct consequence of the Cola invasion was the emergence of Kota Cina. some . These features of Karo and Simalungun society appear to be much more in keeping with the nature of rapidly evolving frontier societies where long-standing traditions have less relevance than developments in the more recent past. The Sembiring marga is believed to have had direct ties with Tamil traders. property. J. that there was a noticeable increase in Tamil economic activity in the region (Nilakanta Sastri 1949:25-30. 94 fn 47. Pelawi and Tekan . a Tamil merchant guild. Through daily intercourse between the Tamils and the local inhabitants in this thriving settlement. With less venerable traditions to consider.are clearly of south Indian origin (Edwards McKinnon 1987:85-6. In the 1088 Lobu Tua inscription described above. agents. Parkin 1978:82. was the Indian subcontinent. Pandia. and that two of the villages. Edwards McKinnon. The name 'Sembiring'. is often cited as a major clue. Deli Tua and Hamparan Perak. perhaps at the behest of Tamil traders. Although a ninthcentury inscription on the Malay Peninsula mentions the presence at Takuapa of members of the Manikkiramam. Neumann 1926:16-7). were located within easy reach of Kota Cina (Edwards McKinnon 1987:90-1). and merchants serving the Tamil guild. mention is made of local armed men.H. oarsmen. Muham. particularly in the newly settled communities. it was only after the successful Cola invasion of Srivijayan territories in 1024-5. ideas would have been exchanged (Subbarayalu 1998:31-3). The names of certain sub-marga . In further support of a southern Indian origin of the Sembiring marga. such societies were more likely to experiment and to adopt new forms and ideas.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' the marga. Meliala. Joustra 1910:184).

Schnitger identified what he believed to be an image of a queen of Panai who founded the temple and who was consecrated as a Bhairavi (Schnitger 1964:93-4. Sivaism. he concluded that the devotees were adherents of Vajrayana Tantric Buddhism. Parkin 1978:84). Singarimbun 1975:75). At Kampung Lubuk Layang in Rao. a demon figure. There may also have been some Tamil influence on Karo ideas on village structure. Parkin 1978:94. encompassing an area with a radius of fifteen kilometres. where the kingdom became known as Malayu. elements similar to the guardian statues 36 Although Adityavarman is generally regarded as the first Minangkabau ruler. Once he established his base in the Minangkabau homeland. he began his career as ruler of Malayu. This shows that he sought to be remembered as the heir of the Srivijayan rulers who first reigned in Palembang and later moved to Jambi. one of the important deities in Kalacakra or Left-Handed Tantric Buddhism. . Siahaan 1964:114-5. The model was a similar statue dated 1292 of the Bhairava seated on a dais surrounded by skulls and wearing a crown. Andaya scholars have cited a mode of disposing of the dead believed to have been borrowed from the Tamils. were the Indianized Malayu communities. Anangavarman. Judging from inscriptions found here. Fontein 1990:162-3). Padang Lawas played an important role in the region from the mid-eleventh to the end of the fifteenth century. and a syncretic Siva-Buddhism. perhaps the second-largest archaeological site in Indonesia. Heine-Geldern 1972:326. Between 1935 and 1938 Schnitger found some twenty temples here. he called himself Kanakamedinindra. In one of the temples found at Parmutung.392 Leonard Y.a reference to the island of Sumatra. Adityavarman never mentions the name 'Minangkabau' in his inscriptions (Satyawati 1977:9). The inspiration for this statue can be traced directly to the Singasari court of east Java. in the Pasaman district. or 'Lord of the Gold Land' . particularly in the realm of magic and religion. is believed to refer to a form of organization found in medieval Tamil society (Edwards McKinnon 1996:93). as well as a Heruka figure. Urung. Tantric influence appears to have continued under Adityavarman's son. De Casparis 1985:246. Another source of Indian ideas. This practice involves secondary cremation and setting the ashes adrift (the pekualuh ceremony) and is found only in the Dairi lands in the west and among the Karo (N. and a necklace of skulls (Parkin 1978:254-64. Many authors believe that the presence of Tantrism in the Padang Lawas complex was due to Indian influence from Malayu/Minangkabau36 via east Java. where Adityavarman spent some years and left an inscription in 1343. earrings. In support of this argument. possibly Tantric. a headless weatherworn statue broken in two was found displaying Hindu. Their influence is especially evident in the Padang Lawas complex. From the inscriptions and an analysis of the statuary. who identified himself as Heruka. the Karo term for a village federation. they cite the famous fourteenth-century Adityavarman statue in the form of the god Bhairava. fn 47. found at Rambahan on the Batang Hari.

and hence great care is taken to dispose of these with the utmost secrecy. and Tantric rituals. shadow. Their preliminary findings would suggest that the Padang Lawas complex was a result of Indian influence coming from the port cities in northern Sumatra rather than from Java and southern Sumatra. and tenduy Simalungun. urine. Because of the perceived derogatory nature of this name. tondi is Toba. and even in the name of a person.37 A team of archaeologists visiting the site in 1973 concluded that it had no clear relationship with Java (Bronson et al. tendi Karo. In the present essay I have simply focused on Tantrism as an important part of Indian religious ideas that appears to have been particularly relevant in the southward expansion of Batak society towards the Minangkabau lands. A third possibility is that Padang Lawas received Indianized ideas from both directions and formed a cultural frontier between the Minangkabau and the Batak. meaning 'the First [Religion]'. In the following discussion the Toba terms are used. for example. Parkin. 6. the evidence suggests that Indian magico-religious ideas were eagerly sought by the Batak in order to strengthen their belief systems in the ongoing struggle to improve their spiritual and material well-being. excrement. 77. tears. It is present in every part of the human being. 1973:19. including the hair. and Rae 1994. 64. Sivaite. For example. known as Perbegu or Pemena38. argues that many Sivaite ideas were brought by Indians themselves through communities such as those found in Lobu Tua and Kota Cina. fingernails. sweat. 38 The old religion is referred to by Christian Batak as Perbegu. 39 The word varies from one Batak language to the other. was not supplanted by religious concepts from India. The most powerful tondi resides in the placenta and the amniotic fluid at birth.39 Tondi is sometimes translated as 'soul stuff and is found in smaller quantities in animals and plants. The indigenous Batak religion. Satyawati 1977:2). Religion and the high priests in the service of trade Whatever the ultimate source of Indian religious inspiration in Padang Lawas. or worship of ancestral spirits. 1973:19). . It was therefore possible for the Batak to retain their own beliefs while also adopting Mahayana Buddhist. adherents prefer the term Pemena. There is also support for the argument that Indian influence may have reached Padang Lawas from the north. 61. Bronson et al.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' in Padang Lawas (Satyawati 1977:2. which in a living person is known as "tondi" and for a dead person is generally called "begu"' (Parkin 1978:6). Ritual cannibalism 37 393 Three more recent works which include a detailed discussion of the impact of Indian ideas on Batak indigenous religion are Parkin 1978. Pedersen 1967. but came to co-exist with them. Parkin explains that Perbegu can be viewed as 'a cult of the human soul.

which can be succinctly translated as 'manifestation of supernatural power'. is the sombaon. These religious edifices were located at the ports a n d along the rivers leading to the ports. and hence the one subject to the most frequent appeals. 45 Jacq-Hergoualc'h also noted the n u m e r o u s temples in South Kedah. while to refuse to obey and venerate such a person is to court disaster (Castles 1972:13-4). however. H e believes they were erected by a merchant or g r o u p of merchants seeking the favour of the gods.1:31-3. the tondi becomes begu (ancestral spirit). From early times religion was closely linked to trade among the Batak. such as the blood. Miksic 1979:97). 42 Warneck (1906) describes sombaon as the highest stage that the spirit of the d e a d can attain. benefited from its links to the interior areas through the important trans-insular portage in the Panai-Barumun river valley (Edwards McKinnon 1984. . subscribed to the view of others. 330. These communities share a c o m m o n Austronesian past. w h o argue that the last breath of a person becomes the begu. then a sombaon (Sherman 1990:82).41 The most powerful begu. Respect {hasangapon) accompanies one possessed of sahala. 304-5.43 The ultimate test of potency was the possession of sahala. see Shore 1989:137-43. a n area long associated with Indian traders. a begu is transformed into a sumangot. Rae 1994:18-20).44 Sahala is manifested in successful economic and other ventures. 44 Sahala is in essence the s a m e as the idea of mana in Pacific Island societies. Edwards McKinnon observed that from Padang Lawas southward was a line of candi or temples marking a route from Tapanuli down to the Minangkabau lands.45 The ancient kingdom of Panai. heart. influential relatives. Andaya provided the opportunity to strengthen one's tondi at the expense of the victim by consuming those parts of the body that are potent with tondi. a n d the concept is one which can b e traced to the Austronesian language. Ypes believed that it referred also to the dwelling-places of these beings (Ypes 1932:196). 41 Joustra. H e also noted the similarity in architectural styles between the temples in South K e d a h a n d those of P a d a n g Lawas. 309). 43 Sombaon is a general term for earth spirits or deities. skill in oratory. The Padang Lawas or Panai complex arose due to its strategic location at the crossroads of several riverine and overland routes.394 Leonard Y. More candi were found along rivers that were used to gain access to the east coast. sufficiently important to have warranted an attack by Cola forces in 1025. 40 Early Western observers with little or n o k n o w l e d g e of Batak beliefs attributed the preference for these particular parts of the h u m a n b o d y simply to a matter of individual taste. which h e attributes to the u s e of a n Indian m o d e l (Jacq-Hergoualc'h 1992:299. palms of the hands.40 When a person dies. and soles of the feet. For a discussion of mana.42 Through public feasts at which homage is paid. that w h a t is spoken is immortal because it is the w i n d (Joustra 1902:416). This is based on the belief that the breath cannot be destroyed. the spirit of an ancestor who founded great communities and had at least seven generations of descendants (Pedersen 1967:19-26. or bravery in battle. Religious edifices were erected along trade routes to protect the trader from adverse human and natural forces and thus assure the economic success of his venture. numerous progeny.

Ompu Palti Raja among the Lontung. which is widely cited in the literature. perhaps more properly called 'Malayu Batak') horse traders were going to the Karo plateau from the east coast to make offerings at the tombs of the Sibayak [lords] of Kabanjahe and Barusjahe. he claimed to have his own areas. who moved easily between two worlds. the Borbor came to be regarded as a separate.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' At the Padang Lawas site. independent of either of the other two high priests (Situmorang I have opted for the term 'high priest'. it spread rapidly to the new areas where Toba migrants had settled. A s a result of expansion into areas both of the L o n t u n g a n d the Sumba. temples were prominent. the Lontung. 46 395 . which derived from the gods and was transmitted patrilineally through the original founders of the three major Toba marga . after successful transactions. Westenberg noted in 1891 that 'Malay' (most likely Batak. the twelfth (1875-1907). the candi were replaced by tombs erected in honour of important Batak ancestors (sombaon). or authority beyond his own jurisdiction among the Lontung.47 It was this sahala-hamjaon which legitimized the rule of high priests bearing the title Jongi Manaor among the Borbor. 'High priest 1 appears m o r e appropriate to t h e function of these figures in Batak society a n d accords with Kozok's belief that only the last Singamangaraja. With the withdrawal of the Tamil population and/or its absorption into the Batak community. unlike the Sisingamangaraja. In his letters h e claimed to be 'Ruler of the Batak Clans' a n d even 'Ruler of Sumatra' (Kozok 2000b:274-6). This date. On the outward journey betel was offered. 48 In a more recent work. These ancestral tombs proved popular sites of spiritual power. did not claim a divine origin. Borbor initially formed part of Lontung. The Jongi Manaor's pretensions were also far more modest than those of the Sisingamangaraja. but when that occurred cannot be determined with any certainty. Situmorang suggests that the Toba Batak believed in a sahala-harajaon. 47 According to Keuning. a goat or a white chicken was sacrificed (Westenberg 1892:227). Oral traditions (including those surrounding the origins of the Sisingamangaraja) tend to telescope years and often refer to events which occurred far earlier. The Ompu Palti Raja.the Borbor.46 Though it originated in the Toba lands. Situmorang asserts that Sorimangaraja was the title of the high priests prior to the creation of the Sisingamangaraja institution in the sixteenth century (Situmorang 1993:218). perhaps after the demise of Kota Cina in the fourteenth century. and the Sumba. rather than the more commonly used 'priest-king'. but on the homebound journey. major marga (Keuning 1948:16). or 'spiritual power of governing'. and Sisingamangaraja (preceded by Sorimangaraja) among the Sumba (Situmorang 1987:221-4). The Sorimangaraja may have preceded the Sisingamangaraja.48 Although they were equal in stature within their respective marga. referred to himself as king. the Sisingamangaraja was the best known to Europeans. The religious institution that had the greatest economic impact on the Batak was that of the high priests. has been arrived at by the questionable method of counting backward assuming a certain number of years per sundut or generation. as well as in the Tamil settlements at Lobu Tua and Kota Cina.

de Haan 1875:30). but lightning strikes at that very spot and transports the afterbirth to heaven.15. however. lightning and a heavy rainstorm. he sent a staff as a sign that a ceasefire should be declared and the parties submit to his mediation (Tideman 1936:25-6.396 Leonard Y. These things occur. and expose both truth and lies . see Tobing 1967:23-47.50 Other legends were later added to reaffirm the Sisingamangaraja's supernatural attributes. Pleyte. acknowledged that the Sisingamangaraja was effective in settling quarrels and mediating 49 As mentioned previously. . The divine origins of the Sisingamangaraja made him an ideal intermediary between the gods and the human community. de Haan was told that the Sisingamangaraja could go seven months without food and three months without sleep because the gods supplied his every need (C. The Sisingamangaraja confirms his supernatural origins by openly declaring. but also between the Batak and the outside world (Cummings 1994:63-4). He intervened in disputes not only among the Batak. In 1870 C. He could make peace. Early European observers believed that these high priests exercised very little authority because there were no visible signs of political power. 'I am a descendant of the gods' (Pleyte 1903:3. that many of the distinctive features attributed to the Sisingamangaraja would have been ascribed to the other two categories of high priest. the afterbirth is regarded as one of the most important sources of a person's tondi. create laws.49 Batara Guru's messenger then brings to the child manuscripts with astrological charts for augury purposes and matters concerning planting and weaving. and she becomes pregnant. a spirit informs the mother that another four years will elapse before the birth can occur. After three years pass with the baby still unborn. the laws. The high priests' success in promoting trade and agriculture was an important measure of their sahala. for example. For a very detailed account of the miraculous birth a n d life of the first Sisingamangaraja. One of the most extensive accounts of the origins of the first Sisingamangaraja comes from a Batak text collected by CM. If a war continued unabated. She will know when it is time because there will be earthquakes. and tigers and panthers will tear at one another. One can assume. spirits will fill the village square. Andaya 1993:77-8). 50 There are variations on the story.17). The story of the removal of the afterbirth to the heavens emphasizes the Sisingamangaraja's divine origins. There is a fair amount of literature on the Sisingamangaraja. It is found and eaten by the wife of the chief of the village of Bakkara. and the Sisingamangaraja is born with a black. The afterbirth is buried under the house. Meerwaldt 1899:530). b u t the general outline is the same. the calendar. 6-7. hairy tongue. In this legend the deity Batara Guru causes a jambu fruit to fall to the ground. Heine-Geldern. but little on the Jongi Manaor or the Ompu Palti Raja. and a handbook of spells.qualities that made him unsurpassed in settling disputes.

and a number of horja constituting a bins.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' peace between warring parties. 53 Situmorang further divides the bius into three categories. causing a n unprecedented rise in the price of white chickens. H e characterizes the others as 'developing' a n d 'backward' bius (Situmorang 1993:42-3). at which the parbaringin officiated. Tobing 1967:17-8. and a third against the Dutch (Heine-Geldern 1953:374). where the 'great council' (rapot bolon) mediated disputes and made binding decisions on important public issues (Kubitscheck 1997:193. What he failed to realize was that the Sisingamangaraja and the other high priest figures exercised effective control not so much through the use of force as through the threat of supernatural sanctions implied in their words. . The response w a s immediate a n d widespread. 52 Sangti says that s o m e t w e n t y huta w o u l d t h e n form a horja. the Batak continued to respond to r u m o u r s of his continued presence. In the 1920s a m a n emerged in Karoland w h o claimed that the Sisingamangaraja h a d c o m m a n d e d everyone to slaughter a white chicken. with a varying number of huta forming a horja. these rulers were obeyed not so much for their military as for their spiritual prowess. but concluded. However. N. The bius is usually described as a 'sacrifice community' because the culmination of its activities is the annual agricultural ritual and sacrifice. letters. another against the Padris. m o s t other c o m m e n t a t o r s give v a r y i n g figures. with the most developed being the bius u n d e r the parbaringin.54 Situmorang traces the origins of the bius to the need for management of the irrigation system. this sacrifice provides an occasion for community integration and renewal of commitment to its customs and traditions. L. with the chief official of the bius (known variously as raja bius. Andaya 2000). there was a hierarchy of institutions under these high priests which provided a form of supra-village unity. 100-2). however. that the Sisingamangarajas had employed force in the past. Perhaps the most important agricultural function of the bius was the promotion through the 51 397 Heine-Geldern points out. The first had led a war against the Lotung marga. or raja na ualu) being chosen by the heads of the horja. Sangti 1977:303. 54 So great w a s the reverence for the Sisingamangaraja institution that even after t h e last Sisingamangaraja h a d disappeared in the nineteenth century.53 At the apex of this hierarchy stood the Sisingamangaraja. raja oloan. 'otherwise his political power was weak' (Heine-Geldern 1953:376).52 Religious leadership was provided by the parbaringin. who instituted bius markets and legitimized officials through letters of appointment. In addition to ensuring the fertility of the crops. or village. Castles 1975:74. a n d s e v e n horja w o u l d m a k e u p a bius (Sangti 1977:293-4). people began to eat a certain type of fish because it w a s r u m o u r e d that the Sisingamangaraja h a d ordered it to w a r d off evil (Castles 1975:74). and widely recognized spiritual powers (Drakard 1999. Situmorang 1993:40-4. The basic social unit was the huta. H o w e v e r . Siahaan 1964:112. Among the responsibilities of the bius was the hosting of the 'large market' {onan na godang or onan bius).51 Although precolonial Batak society has been characterized by Castles as being 'stateless'. In Angkola. and hence the organization of agriculture and the implementation of laws.

the Sisingamangaraja conducted rituals invoking the ancestral spirits to ensure a good harvest and hence prosperity for their descendants.55 The network of bins organizations throughout the land provided a supra-village structure based on a blend of economic. His control over the growth of rice and various types of ubi or root crops and his ability to cause rain and to locate well water were attributes expected of one with direct links to the agricultural deities. w h i c h m a y a c c o u n t for their ability t o r e m a i n o u t s i d e t h e Sisingamangaraja s p h e r e of influence (Ginting forthcoming:291). Although there is very little information about the other two high priests. Rice is 55 Sherman. creating harmony among the Batak groups through mediation. . James 1902: 137.his appointed officials. and the crops. Meerwaldt 1899:530. The Sisingamangaraja was revered for his powers in ensuring the material welfare of the people through the promotion of agriculture. political and religious authority. In agriculture he was credited with the ability to bring rains. Conducting the agricultural ritual was considered an essential task of the parbaringin to assure the ongoing prosperity of the inhabitants. It was this prohibition. presided over the sacrifices in the important agricultural rites. In Toba proper . and maintenance of the marketplace. enforce the acceptance of his allocation of rice lands.though apparently not in Silindung56 . maintain the irrigation system. and ensure the efficacy of agricultural rituals (Tideman 1936:25-6. they asserted. the parbaringin. the Ompu Palti Raja and the Jonggi Manaor. 56 T h e S i l i n d u n g constitute o n e of t h e major marga i n t h e Toba area. Andaya year of feasts and rituals devoted to the rice-growing cycle and the appeasement of spirits (Korn 1953:36. nineteenth. Van Dijk 1895:300-1). which had resulted in problems in their community (Korn 1953:32-3). The young Sisingamangaraja was said to have been capable of causing rice plants to grow with their stalks in the ground and their roots in the air. The esteem and respect for high priests among the Batak may have increased even further when rice became an important Batak export commodity. Situmorang 1993:42-3). It may have been around this time that the Batak intensified rice planting in existing fields to meet this need. 22. Sherman 1990:80-5). studying the ritual functions of the bius. locate wells. The rise of the pepper trade in the fifteenth century led to an increasing demand for rice by communities engaged in pepper production in Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Before the rice-planting season began. the animals. concluded that it might be compared to ancestral cults of the earth found elsewhere in Southeast Asia (Sherman 1990:82). As late as 1938 the Dutch received delegations of parbaringin seeking the revocation of a colonial measure introduced earlier in the century which forbade the performance of this ritual.398 Leonard Y.126.and twentieth-century sources indicate that they continued to be highly revered for their ability to summon rain and control rice growth (Hirosue 1994:20.

A second important function of the Sisingamangaraja was promoting harmony among the Batak groups through his mediation. or 'invested with supernatural power'. Although the latter had arisen among the Toba. When the missionaries Burton and Ward travelled to the Toba lands. which may destroy the entire crop. Moreover. while the Jonggi Manaor's area of jurisdiction was in the lands between the interior and Barus. The Batak were no different. their influence extended to the other areas where the Batak had settled. as well as the assurance that the sanctity of the marketplace would be observed. traditional rice-growing societies everywhere have resorted to appeals to supernatural forces to prevent the loss of a crop and to ensure a bountiful harvest. In this role he was able to effect wide agreement on standard rice measures. They were appointed by the Sisingamangaraja and had the important responsibility of maintaining the viability of the markets (Castles 1972:18-9. and pests. Of these three. By the nineteenth century it was possible to distinguish a heartland and 399 an extended network of communities forming a single Batak cultural unity. As a result.1975:74). they commented on the influence of the Sisingamangaraja.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' a fragile plant requiring intensive preparation and great care. . diseases. during its growth it is vulnerable to unexpected weather changes. these magico-religious figures became the foci and the facilitators of the production and delivery of rice and forest products from the interior to the coasts. were known as parbaringin in the Sumba districts. Representatives bore their insignia and exercised authority on their behalf because of the awe and veneration with which the Batak regarded these high priests (Hirosue 1994:22). The expansion of their functions contributed to the evolution of a supra-village authority and to a growing sense among the people of belonging to a single ethnic group under the leadership of the high priests. whom Burton and Ward believed to be village chiefs from the surrounding districts (Burton and Ward 1827:514). who was considered by the inhabitants to be 'bertuati. or restore the luxuriance of a faded crop' (Raffles 1991:436). the Sisingamangaraja exercised the greatest influence among the Batak communities in general. As the Batak became increasingly involved in international trade. The Ompu Palti Raja was the high priest with the greatest influence among those in the Simalungun lands involved in the trade between Lake Toba and the east coast. and Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles commented on their belief that the Sisingamangaraja could 'blight the paddy. His representatives. promoted and strengthened by the activities of the high priests.

stories of his supernatural powers would have been sufficient to convince many other Batak to heed his words or those of the persons delegated to represent him. They believe him possessed of supernatural powers. he had a reputation for magico-spiritual powers which in earlier centuries proved far 57 I argue in other essays that there was a conscious decision by the Malayu rulers of Melaka and Johor. and is of an antiquity which none disputes.57 With the appointment of parbaringin.' (Raffles 1991:435-6. and cultural entity in the Malayu world. If not the threat of supernatural sanctions then the promise of economic advantage made the institution of the Sisingamangaraja appealing to the Batak. Between the sixteenth and the late seventeenth century. and the Acehnese rulers to appeal to a politicized ethnic identity for economic reasons in the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. they came into direct competition with the Malayu.) In this letter Raffles claims that the Sisingamangaraja was 'universally' acknowledged. My informants say certainly above thirty descents. See L. political. would have been joined by Batak elsewhere in forming a group responsive to his wishes. who is universally acknowledged. but is particular in his observances. Andaya 2000. and he resides at Bakara in the Toba district. Only from the eighteenth century did a separate Acehnese identity emerge in recognition of the success of Johor in becoming acknowledged as the centre of Malayu culture. Raffles wrote that among the Batak he was 'something like an ecclesiastical Emperor or Chief. the Minangkabau rulers of Pagaruyung. In this way the Batak in the southern Lake Toba region. He is descended from the Menangkabau race. Although it is more likely that he had direct influence only over the Sumba group of marga among the Toba Batak. Andaya Ethnicization of the Batak As the Batak moved toward both coasts and southward from Lake Toba in response to economic opportunities. he neither eats hog nor drinks tuah [palm-wine]. or 900 years. While he did not possess any means for physical coercion. In a letter to Marsden dated 27 February 1820. who were the Sisingamangaraja's principal adherents. In face of this development. the Minangkabau. A European report from the early nineteenth century confirms the elevated status and veneration enjoyed by the Si Singamangaraja among the Batak. . and 2001b. the institution of the high priests was invoked to promote ethnic unity. He does not live in any very great state. and referred to in all case of public calamity. Aceh saw itself as a Malayu kingdom and was the dominant economic. The acknowledgement of the Sisingamangaraja as the overarching spiritual authority over all Batak may have been a deliberate economic decision by the Batak in order to compete effectively against the newly ethnicized Malayu.400 Leonard Y. His title is Si Singah Maha Rajah. Minangkabau and Acehnese. etc. 2001a. and the Acehnese. a hierarchy was created whose major responsibility was the maintenance of agriculture and the marketplace.

'Vernacular literary languages do not "emerge" like buds or butterflies. Yet despite these cultural incursions. Although employing an old Indian Pallava-derived script. the Sisingamangaraja and other high priests created a unity among many Batak groups on the basis of their sacred reputation. As Pollock so succinctly explained. He terms this language division 'hyperglossia' (Pollock 1998:11-2). pulas (a t y p e of threatening letter). Of particular value and relevance for the Batak situation is his argument that there is a division of labour in languages. Often in the introduction to pustaha. which not only played a magico-religious role but also became an important marker of Batak identity. Batak ethnic consciousness was reinforced by the creation of pustaha. . the dominant intellectual and political languages in Sumatra were Sanskrit and Malayu. and laments. but remained relatively unchanged over the centuries. while the vernacular is restricted to 'business' or practical aspects. they are made' (Pollock 1998:7). the pustaha were regarded as distinctly 'Batak'. s u c h a s letters. there is no record of when pustaha first began to be written. system of marketplaces. in which Sanskrit retains its position as 'the public literary expression of political will'.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' more intimidating. perhaps because of the sacred contents.58 The survival of a Batak language using a modified Pallava script to transmit sacred and other tribal knowledge is noteworthy. whereas modern Javanese has diverged quite significantly from the original Pallava (Kozok 1999:65). though the latter two forms tended also to have a strong magicoreligious intent (Kozok 2000a:43-4). there w e r e other forms of writing. Teachers 58 401 In a d d i t i o n t o t h e pustaha.59 A Batak world was thus inscribed and circumscribed by the pustaha. The survival and persistence of the pustaha tradition may have been the result of a deliberate political choice at a time when the Batak were becoming increasingly involved in economic rivalry with neighbouring communities. Instead of a political structure with the accoutrements of state power. and coterie of magico-religious officials operating in a borderless world. Batak writing may have originated with the creation of the pustaha. From the seventh until at least the fourteenth century. the Batak were not overwhelmed by the expansion of the Malayu language and culture into northern Sumatra (Teeuw 1959:148-51. Written in a language and a script unlike anything possessed by their neighbours. Their influence was particularly strong. Kozok has shown that the Batak script continues to display an affinity with the Pallava and Old Javanese (Kawi) scripts. The pustaha contained astrological tables and magic formulae and were intended for magico-religious purposes. Collins 1996:9). and evidence of their presence has been noted in the discussion of the archaeological finds at Padang Lawas. a chain of transmission of knowledge from the legendary founder to the current writer is listed. 59 I have based my arguments on Pollock's stimulating discussion of the process of vernacularization in India. or bark books.

medical. conduct special rituals to ward off evil or recall a spirit which had wandered away from a body. he gained the confidence and support of the people. His wandering life-style and the practice of accepting pupils from all over the Batak lands contributed to a network that transcended territorial and marga divisions. Ginting 1991:86-7). however. 10). 82). When the intrepid Italian traveller Elio Modigliani journeyed through the Toba Batak area in 1890. the datu acquired an incomparable knowledge of the future. Voorhoeve. and prescribe potions to assist in affairs of the heart and give self-confidence (Wilier 1846:295-6. he became the primary source of the old tales. Through long and intensive study. who can 'recite in a sing-song tone the old legends and myths which are important in the performance of a ritual so that the participants understand its background and can therefore experience the ritual more intensely' (Ginting 1991: 86-7). and traditions from which the Batak gained an understanding of their rituals 0. He thus became an influential advocate and an ideal conduit for information and directives of the high priest. Ginting describes a Karo guru. Through his knowledge of the contents of the pustaha.H. that not all guru [or datu] achieved the same level of competence. Guru Somalaing. 96). The datu also used his knowledge of plants and the spirit world to concoct the various medicines for treating and preventing illnesses. but also 'a man of science who embodies all current available historical.H. he befriended the great datu.402 Leonard Y. or 'great guru' (Ginting 1991: 94. or 'wandering lion' (Voorhoeve 1979/80:62. concluded that the sacred language of the texts derives from a sub-Toba dialect spread by wandering datu. from whom he obtained a text by the 'wandering datu' of the Simanjuntak marga intended for his pupils belonging to the Siagian marga. It was also commonplace for pupils to travel long distances to study with famous datu (Kozok 1999:17). Also strengthening the sense of a unified Batak world was the pustaha tradition. Those with exceptional skill won a reputation as guru mbelin. where one of the great masters is called 'Singa Mortandang'. Because of the datu's ability to assure the well-being of the community in so many different ways. legends. Andaya and pupils from different regions travelled together through the Batak areas because their services were sought everywhere (Voorhoeve 1927:10.60 This latter function still survives among the Batak today. the Karo equivalent of a datu. 78. in his intensive study of pustaha. the characteristics of plants. Neumann 1910:2. theological and economic knowledge' (J. Neumann 1910:2). 13). who were immune to inter-marga and inter-village conflicts in precolonial times (Voorhoeve 1973: 60 Ginting reminds us. . and the wisdom contained in the writings of the ancestors. The wandering datu was described as not simply a religious practitioner. The itinerant character of these datu is emphasized in another text collected by Modigliani.

beginning in the fifteenth century. the Batak sought other outlets for their products. Prior to the twentieth century. Conclusion 403 The people who are collectively known as Batak today were historically never isolated from the developments occurring in the region. or the old Batak religion. Though Kota Cina itself disappeared sometime in the fourteenth century. other east-coast kingdoms came to provide an outlet for the export of Batak forest products and rice in later centuries. To meet this new demand. Candi and ancestral tombs were judiciously placed along major trade routes to assure spiritual protection and success for Batak traders. Batak groups sought to profit from international trade by following these routes and settling in proximity of these export centres.The Trans-Sumatra Trade and the Ethnicization of the 'Batak' 39). With the increasing tempo of trade and the dispersal of . there were migrations from the Toba region to new lands south and east of Lake Toba in search of rice lands. then on to the Batang Hari. the Batak used routes from the camphor and benzoin forests located to the northwest and southeast of Lake Toba southward to Padang Lawas. When Srivijaya was conquered by the rival Cola dynasty in 1025. Another major economic stimulus to Batak migrations was the growing demand for rice among pepper growers in Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. and the pustaha. From very early times they were incorporated into regional trade networks because they were major suppliers of camphor and benzoin . the datu. From the eighth to the fourteenth centuries. and much of the camphor and benzoin supplies was diverted eastward and westward towards the coasts. Crucial to the success of Batak involvement in international trade were their religious institutions. The spread of the pustaha tradition helped create a shared sacred language and a common store of magico-religious lore. Perbegu/Pemena. After 1025 Kota Cina and Barus joined Srivijaya and Malayu as exporting centres for these resins. The rise of Kota Cina on the east coast and the re-emergence of Barus on the west coast as ports for the export of camphor and benzoin drew the Batak towards both coasts. While Srivijaya was still the dominant entrepot in the Straits. was a core element of Batak identity. The involvement of the Batak in international trade made them responsive to political and economic shifts that had a direct impact on their livelihood.two of the most highly valued Southeast Asian commodities in the international trade from at least the eighth up to the nineteenth century (Burkill 1966. and eventually to Srivijaya on the Musi River in Palembang. 1:878-9). The key to the ethnicization of the Batak was provided by the components of Perbegu/Pemena: the high priests.

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